Do you know that unexpected things, about which you don’t have any opinion? Well…I’ve heard something about, but what was waiting for me was far more interesting! This is a place you must put on your “places to visit in Beijing” list!
It’s a kind of traditional chinese theatre with more than 200 years, a very colorful spectacle and with tons of visual information, that offers a little bit of everything: acrobatics, a lot of songs (probably sad- the English version they put on the translator board is not very helpful either!) sappily chanted, costumes richly embroidered, very skilled dancers, mimic. A folkloric staging really rich in details and drama. A lot of locals say that this is “for tourists” kind of show, but even if that’s true (and I highly believe so- we were the landslide majority of the audience), it has a visual and historical appeal that is very enriching. The show has revealed to be extremely flexible when surviving the persecution to its actors and the prohibition of the most of its plays during the Cultural Revolution., being considered today one of China’s cultural treasures. The shows take place in three theaters/hotels of the city, so it’s recommended that you always check before going, maybe there’s one near you. The halls are never full, so the tickets hardly will be ran out. There’s no need of buying the high priced tickets, the cheapest ones are ok, you can always have a good general view of the show, so to justify the higher prices they offer some tea and local snacks degustation during the performance.
There are four main roles kinds: sheng (man), dang (woman), jing (“painted face”) and chou (comic character); and the stories are, generally, about ancient legends from the chinese literature.
Despite all the visual appeal, there are also very typical musical instruments of their culture, such as the erhu (chinese violin), the gong, the lute, the suona (kind of sharp oboe), among others. The instruments are to ponctuate the performances on stage, but its importance on the spectacle must not be underestimated, because for the chinese, an opera must be “heard” and not only seen. An average of 7 instrumentalists accompany each presentation.
The cast’s make up is of an impressive richness, and for its own is already worth the visit. It represents the diverse forms of inspiration searched on this ancient legends, an for the actors, it represents the opportunity to demonstrate all their art, offering sometimes to the visitor the opportunity of accompanying their preparation on the backstage. On the feminine character , it evokes the chinese women ideal of beauty: oval face, pointed chin, arched eyebrows, almondlike eyes and rosy lips, also including the already traditional whitish face.
The suits, made under the Ming dinasty patterns, are finely manufactured in silk, worshipping the esthetic enchant.
Do no wait for a Broadway show, but go with an open heart and clean well your ears, to listen very clearly to the maximum sharps the very cute lady will toast your audition. And be sure that this show will help you to admire a little bit more the Chinese people, both for their respect to their ancestors as for their carefulness of doing something that rich in details!
Enjoy the spectacle!