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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
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
"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.
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.