Peking Opera 京剧

Chinese : ?? 

Pinyin J?ngjù 

Peking or Beijing Opera is a combination of fourth performances :

  • Singing whereas singing is more concerned with expression of emotions.
  • Recitation by telling a story. The performer speaks in changbai, a speaking technique different from the daily speaking, in which honorific terms abound. The actor rises or muffles his voice and lengthens certain syllables to create a specific rhythm. The goal is never to imitate a conversation in a realistic way.
  • Acting or dancing where the actors have to describe the situation and the environment around them through gesture.
  • Acrobatics and combat displayed in the form of martial arts.

Characters and roles:

Characters 5

There are 4 main roles in the Peking Opera : 

  • ?Sh?ng : the male role. According to the personality and status, it has different subtypes :
    • Wusheng : Acrobatic and martial Male Role.
    • Xiaosheng : Handsome young male.
    • Hongsheng : Middle-age male.
    • Laosheng : Senior or the older male role. Wear sensible costumes.
  • ? (Dàn) : the female character. Depending on the character played, it can be divided into subtypes :
    • Laodan : Old women.
    • Wudan : Acrobat and martial woman.
    • Daomadan : A stronger, more forceful character.
    • Zhengdan (Qingyi) : Virtuous and elite women, dignified, serious, and decent characters, which are mostly wives or mothers.
    • Huadan : Vivacious and unmarried women.
    • Huashan : Combines the status of the qingyi with the sensuality of the huadan.
  • ? (Jìng) : The male character with painted face. The character can be either positive or negative. The color of face can let know what type he is playing. For example, red for good and black for upright.
  • ? (Ch?u) : Comic or the clown role. The actor's nose is painted by a piece of white powder.

Facial makeup colors and their meaning

Paiting face

The color used for painting mask and faces have meaning.  In the difference of western culture, red and black color are seen as a positive color in Chinese culture, unlike white color, which generally represents negative color. The meaning of colors used in Peking Opera are : 

  • Red : Bravery, courage, uprightness, loyalty, devotion.
  • Black : roughness, forthright, fierceness
  • Blue :  bravery and pride
  • Green : violence, impulsive, stubbornness
  • Purple : justice, uprightness, sophistication
  • Magenta : just, nobility
  • White : evil  treachery, dangerousness, suspiciousness, craftiness
  • Yellow : fierceness, ambition

Musical Instruments and Orchestras

The instrument used in Peking Opera are categories into two main categories : percussion and wind instruments.Persecution instr

  • Percussion instruments known by Wu Chang  are  instruments, which produce strong and rhythmic music. They are often used to accompany acrobatic fighting. For example :
    • the drum (gu),
    • bamboo clappers (ban),
    • gong (luo),
    • cymbals (bo) ,
    • bell (zhong).
  • Orchestra instrument (WenChang) : Includes wind instruments and stringed instruments that accompany singing.Orcheshtra instrument
    • bamboo flute (di),
    • reed pipe (sheng),
    • suona horn,
    • Peking opera fiddle (jinghu),
    • the chinese violin called erhu (two-stringed fiddle), 
    • the four-stringed moon-shaped Chinese mandolin (yueqin),
    • three-stringed plucked instrument (sanxian).

Peking Opera videos

Peking Opera copyright:Jingju Theater Company of Beijing

Peking opera



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