CriticalDance Forum

Peking Opera
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun May 27, 2001 9:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Peking Opera

Image <P><B>Opera as you've never seen it</B> <P>Chinese art form includes acrobatics, stage combat and mime<P>By Patricia Beach Smith for The Sacremento Bee<P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Crouching tigers, hidden dragons, move over -- the Monkey King will soon be in Old Sacramento. When "Tales From the Beijing Opera" -- a series of dramatic vignettes from ancient China -- opens Friday at the Eagle Theatre, the Monkey King will steal the peaches of immortality as always, but in the end he will be a hero. Such is life in a Beijing opera.<P>"The naughty Monkey King creates chaos wherever he goes, but always saves the day," explained Merrianne Moore. The Sacramento native is one half of StrangeCandy, the two-person troupe that will perform the short, elaborately costumed scenes from China's 200-year-old musical theater art form.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited May 27, 2001).]

Author:  Malcolm Tay [ Sat Feb 08, 2003 8:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Peking Opera

<B>Mei Lanfang Peking Opera</B>
Reviewed by Peter McCallum
February 7 2003
Sydney Morning Herald

Opera House, February 5

Peking Opera can be heard every night in Sydney in a crowded Chinese restaurant on the north side whose closely packed laminex tables I won't embarrass by naming, but whose sandal-clad chef, resplendent in shorts and apron, rolls out the falsetto, tight-throated arias, right after he has finished rolling out the noodles. Delightful as that is, the Mei Lanfang Peking Opera Troupe certainly exceed him in matters sartorial.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri May 23, 2003 2:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Peking Opera

Curtain call for Chinese opera
By LIU WENFENG in China Daily

Researchers studying ethnic and folk cultures in China's western regions believe that these rich traditions are under threat. As society modernizes, some indigenous local cultures are giving ground to popular entertainment. Researchers are trying to find ways to preserve these customs to maintain cultural diversity. The following excerpt from a paper by LIU WENFENG, a professor with the local opera research institute of the Chinese Academy of Arts, describes his concerns.
I visited Ansai and Luochuan counties in northern Shaanxi Province of Northwest China to explore local customs and folk arts a year ago.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun May 22, 2005 6:52 am ]
Post subject: 

National Beijing Opera Company of China
By Jann Parry for The Observer

Troupe Two, despite its name as the top touring arm of China's National Beijing Opera Company, has never been to Britain before. Set up after Madam Mao's death, it draws on the centuries-old tradition of what used to be known as Peking Opera - a heritage vandalised by Mao's Cultural Revolution. The sagas have been splendidly restored and new ones created, for television as well as the stage.

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Author:  AnaM [ Mon May 23, 2005 9:44 am ]

On Wednesday 18th May, the National Beijing Opera Company of China presented the Legend of the White Snake at Sadler’s Wells.

The visual spectacle that accompanies Chinese Opera is stunning and, on this occasion, imagery and story line matched each other in beauty and pathos. The legend of two young maidens who were Evil Spirits in a previous life and have to reaffirm their new human status in a conflicting world that shifts continuously between myth and realism is the stuff legends all around the world are made of.

The origins of the piece date to the T’ang Dynasty between the VII and IX centuries. The central story was developed between the following centuries and it seems to have been established by the XIV century. The ancient origins of Chinese Opera are obvious in its form. This is definitely not Opera as we, in the Western World, know it. This is a different art form with its own conventions and elements, as illustrated in many films made during the last decades, Farewell my Concubine being a supreme example.

The actors-singers-dancers are trained to standards of perfection. It is not enough to master the vocal expertise the roles demand –high pitched falsettos-, but the singers have to have a control of their body language and movement that is stylishly stunning. Moreover, in certain scenes reminiscing of the latest Chinese films like House of the Flying Daggers, the acrobatics and precision of martial arts on stage were breathtaking. If only, in The Legend of the White Snake, there was a story that served their purpose.

It took a while to get used to the singing conventions and it was really helpful to have subtitles on both sides of the stage in order to get the full meaning of the story and appreciate the characterisation of the different roles. The musicians sat at one side of the stage and their atonal music provided an atmospheric background throughout the piece.

Special praise should be given to Huang Hua, who played the Green Snake, Xiao Qing. She was marvellous in her acting, singing and in the most stunning scene of the Opera, The Battle at the Temple. This scene was Chinese Opera at its most impressive with its neverending series of acrobatics of unbelievable precision and martial arts fights, perfectly coordinated with the music and action. It is rare to find a story nowadays in which women have such strong roles. Of course, these roles have only been taken by women recently, but still, the story is part of a folklore that has been part of Chinese culture for centuries.

After such spectacle, in the second part, the climax that had preceded it was difficult to match, but the story still unfolded beautifully until the end.

Li Shengsu as Bai Suzhen, the White Snake, was excellent, though she encountered problems in the fight at the Temple with her spear because it kept getting entangled in her clothes. She obviously got anxious at some point, but she recovered in the second half.

Zhang Wei as Xu Xian, the not very loyal husband, was also very good. Though his role did not ask for the acrobatics that some of the others did, he could still perform some jumps with perfection.

Overall, it was a great evening and a unique opportunity to get acquainted with an art form that is so beautifully presented after centuries of change and evolution… and even revolution.

Author:  LMCtech [ Mon May 23, 2005 3:46 pm ]
Post subject: 

The same style from a different company. From the SF Chronicle.

'Kingdom of Desire' a sensual 'Macbeth' remake Peking opera style
Robert Hurwitt, Chronicle Theater Critic

Monday, May 23, 2005

Actually, it isn't Macbeth but Au-Shu and his partner Meng who ride into the forest to encounter not three witches, but a whirling, aged Mountain Spirit. And it's Lady Au-Shu who tempts, cajoles, ridicules and pushes her husband to kill the king and take the throne of blood. But there's no mistaking the source of Taiwan's Contemporary Legend Theatre's "Kingdom of Desire." Nor the significance of its impressive performance Saturday at San Jose's magnificently restored California Theatre.


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