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Entertainment

Beijing Opera

Beijing Opera, once called 'Peking Opera', is the most influential and representative of all operas in China and has a history of about 200 years. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), a local opera troupe from Anhui Province came to Beijing and brought its 'Hui Tune' (which originated in Anhui Pronince and was called 'Pihuang' opera) to the capital. It soon became prevalent. In the course of evolution, it partly drew and adopted repertoire, tune and manner of performance from Kun Opera (a local opera from Jiangsu Province) and Qin Opera (a local opera from Shaanxi Province) as well as folk tunes, gradually developing into what we now call Beijing Opera. Placing emphasis on dancing as well as on singing, it adopted the skills of Chinese martial arts and created its own uniquely stylized, fictitious and strongly rhythmical movements. Singing and reciting show elaborate articulation and phrasing . Systemized in its four categories of singing, acting, reciting and acrobatics, Beijing Opera has exerted a strong influence from other local operas.


Roles in Beijing Opera are divided into the four categories of Sheng, Dan, Jing and Chou, representing male, female, old, young, beautiful, honest and dishonest. Beijing Opera mainly presents historical stories. Out of its more than 1300 plays, about 400 are often on show.


A typical artistic feature of Beijing Opera is highly exaggerated and decorated facial make-ups whose symbolic identification like its splendid hair dresses and costumes, dramatically displays the characters of the good, evil, honest and dishonest.


The orchestra in Beijing Opera consists of wind and string instruments as well as percussion instruments. Jinghu, a small two-stringed bowed instrument, plays a main part. In the more than one hundred years that have passed, many famous singing actors, drum masters and Jinghu masters contributed a lot to the development of Beijing Opera. Famous male actors were Tan Xinpei, Yu Shuyan, Yan Jupeng, Ma Lianliang and Zhou Xinfang. The most famous actors who played female roles were Mei Lanfang, Cheng Yanqiu, Shang Xiaoyun and Xun Huisheng.


After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Beijing Opera troupes have performed abroad many times. They caused a sensation in the world and were warmly welcomed by the audiences.

Chinese Acrobatics

Chinese acrobatics is a favorite form of art among the people. It has a long history with a distinct national style, evolving from the Chinese people's everyday life and working experience.
Historical records and ancient relics, relief carvings in tombs, stone carvings, brick carvings, murals in temples and grottoes, and decorative patterns on utensils show the original Chinese acrobatics more than two thousand years ago in the period of the Warring States. During the Qin and Han Dynasties (221B.C.-220A.D.), artists developed a wide variety of repertoire while acrobatics was thus called 'the show of a high level performing art by the Western Han Dynasty.


Zhang Heng, a great man of letters in the Eastern Han Dynasty, recorded in his writings 'The Western Capital Fu' many exciting acrobatic acts and magic shows. They included 'Balancing on a high pole', 'Jumping through hoops'. 'Hand feats', 'Rope walking', 'Turning of a fish into a dragon', 'Swallowing knives and spitting fire' and 'Drawing a line on the ground and it becomes a river'. He recorded the shows accompanied by a small orchestra. All these illustrate the triumph of ancient Chinese acrobatics. From then on, a variety of acrobatic performances such as traditional conjuring, vocal imitation, taming animals, horsemanship, all have been recorded and described in books and historical relics.

Acrobatic items have been accumulated to several hundred. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, being guided by the principle of 'Letting hundred flowers blossom and weeding through the old to bring forth the new', Chinese acrobatics has developed rapidly. A large number of new programs have been created, collected, and transplanted. As the music accompaniment, costumes, props and lightings etc. being improved, Chinese acrobatics has developed into a comprehensive form of stage art. Statistics show that there are more than one hundred acrobatic troupes throughout China. A large number of young performers have been trained since 6 or 7 years old. The repertoire is over two hundred items.

In October 1981, China Acrobatic Arts Association was established, which had launched its first issue of Acrobatic and Magic as the first magazine of its kind in China. Acrobatics has played an important role in cultural exchanges between China and other nations. In the past 35 years, Chinese acrobatic troupes have toured more than 100 countries and regions throughout the world, and their excellent performances were warmly welcomed and highly appreciated by people from all of the world.

Tang Dynasty Dinner Show

The Tang Dynasty Dinner Show, is a special entertainment program arranged for the foreign tourists who come to visit Xian and it is rather a Must See program for all while enjoy the delicious banquet in the Tang Dynasty Palace that followed by the performance of Chang'an music and dance originated in China's Tang Dynasty over a thousand years ago. It has been recreated in accordance with various historical records as well as ancient art and relics discovered in Xi'an, the former capital of the Tang Dynasty.

The unique show performed by the "Song & Dance Troupe of Tang Dynasty Palace" is a branch of the "Shaanxi Provincial Song & Dance Troupe". This performance has been treasured as the national art that reflects the glory and richness of the ancient culture in Tang Dynasty. There are several typical programs on the stage being introduced as below.

1) "The Huaqing Palace" is a typical piece of Tang court music. In this performance you will see various ancient Chinese musical instruments. This selection was originally performed at royal banquets at the Huaqing Palace, a Tang imperial palace located twenty miles east of Xi'an at the foot of Mt. Lishan.

2) The "White Ramie Cloth Costume Dance" was a popular folk dance during the Tang Dynasty. The ramie cloth was actually discovered by the Chinese during the Jin dynasty, and the dance was choreographed to demonstrate the lightly flowing quality of this new fabric.

3) "The Battling Dance of the King of Qin" is a triumphal dance created by Tang Taizong, a Tang Emperor renowned for building up the empire's military strength. "King of Qin" was his official title before being crowned the Tang Emperor. The weapons and flags used in performance are replicas of those used by his soldiers.

4) "The Red and Blue Camelot Dance" was a Tang court dance created by Yang Guifei, the favorite concubine of the Emperor Tang Xuanzong. Yang Guifei, renowned as one of the four prettiest women in Chinese history, the dance choreographed and performed as a recreation of the Emperor's dreams.

5) "The Da Nuo Dance" is a sorcerer's dance originating in ancient China and performed as early as in the Zhou Dynasty. Later, during the Han and Tang Dynasties, it was performed during ceremonies for good luck and to dispel evil spirits and plagues.

6) "Qui Ci Zhe Zhi Dance" Since ancient times, Qui Ci developed as its own unique Northwestern Chinese civilization, and was well known for its cultural music and dances. During the period of the Tang Dynasty, the Ambassador of Qui Ci would stage performances of their unique cultural music and dances each year as an homage to the Tang Emperors. It has since gained popularity and fame.

7) Buddhism was the most popular religious belief during the Tang dynasty. "The Buddha's Theme" is a piece of music that expressed the philosophy of Buddhism. It is performed by the 'Tang Dynasty Zhong Yan Ladies Band" using traditional musical instruments.

8) "Song of Spring Orioles" was a piece of music that was created for Tang Gaozong's inauguration. During the ceremony, a flock of orioles flew overhead. The emperor was so impressed by this sign of good luck that he ordered his court musicians to compose music via the Pai Xiao, (Instrument with a range of flutes) about three thousand years old instrument, to imitate the sound of the orioles. This music will be performed by Executive Producer, Gao Ming, who is internationally recognized as the premier performer of the Pai Xiao.

9) Glory of the Silk Country "Glory of the Silk Country" is an excerpt from the award-winning Chinese opera "The Silk Road Rainbow," created and written by Executive Producer Gao Ming in 1990. This sensational opera tells the story of the legendary Silk Road which, for hundreds of years, served as the main thoroughfare between China and the West. The scene depicted tells of the Tang Emperor's approval and support in establishing the Silk Road.


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