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Beijing Opera



Beijing Opera is an art form unique to Beijing, with nearly 200 years of history. With a foundation in Hui and Han dramatic styles, it gradually developed and formed by absorbing the characteristics of other dramatic styles such as Kunqu and Qinqiang. In 1790, Hui Drama entered Beijing, an event marked by the appearance of the Hui drama troupe, "Sanqing", famous in Anhui province, on the local scene. Not long after the Sanqing troupe, other troupes followed: the Sixi, Hechun, and Chuntai troupes successively entered and performed in Beijing. These four teams established Beijing Opera, and are together known as the Four Troupes of Hui Drama.


Beijing opera finally formed around 1840, when many styles and varieties had appeared. In Beijing opera, stories are told through an integration of dialogue, comedy, singing, dancing and acrobatic fighting. Joy, anger, sorrow, happiness, surprise, fear, and sadness from our daily lives are expressed on stage. There are generally four kinds of roles in Beijing opera: clown, young male, young female and painted face generally played by male actors. Important characters often take the forms of emperors, ministers, talents, beauties and gods. Themes such as loyalty, betrayal, beauty, ugliness, good and evil are all released in the plays through the actors' performances. Beijing opera recreates the drama of social reality and the lives of ordinary people in a creative space. Most of Chinese cultural art forms can be found in the opera performance, such as Kung fu, acrobatics, music, and painting.


Costumes are especially significant in Beijing opera. The actors wear incredible costumes generally made with handcrafted embroidery. They appear elegant, brilliant, fascinating. In Beijing opera, the characters are distinguished by their costumes, and rarely change throughout the performance. Even when expressing a shift in setting or season, the performers usually wear the same garments. The costumes in Beijing opera clearly distinguish between good and evil, and male and female characters.   


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