The Differences between Chinese and Western Operas

June 13, 2017

JadeDragon.com says, “Chinese opera is uniquely different from Western opera – whether Mozart or Wagner. There are so many details: origins, storylines, costumes, facial painting, stage rituals and customs, character types, and so on, not to mention musical usage that makes Chinese opera a unique form.”

For instance, Peking Opera is a combination of several styles of Chinese opera. The metamorphosis started during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)  about two-hundred years ago.

Peking Opera focuses on historical events, legends about emperors, ministers, generals, geniuses, and great beauties.

Performances are a combination of singing, dialogue, pantomime and acrobatic fighting and dancing.

Today, Peking Opera is considered the highest expression of Chinese culture.

The origins of Peking Opera did not begin in Peking (Beijing).  The opera had its start in the Chinese provinces of Anhui and Hubei.

Experts say the opera was born in 1790 and was originally staged for the royal family and only then for the public.

There are thousands of these operas that cover the history and literature of China. Peking operas can be divided into two categories.

“Civil” operas focus on singing while “Martial” operas feature acrobatics and stunts.  Some are a combination of both.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Farewell My Concubine – a movie review

July 2, 2013

Chen Kaige, self-trained as a filmmaker, was the director for this award winning 1993 film. Prior to “Farewell, My Concubine“, Chen received modest acclaim for the “Yellow Earth” and “The Big Parade”. With “Farewell, My Concubine,” he won the Palme d-or in Cannes.

Although the film is in Mandarin with English subtitles, the story captured me from the beginning. If you are interested in Chinese history, this film spans several decades beginning near the end of the Qing Dynasty. On the surface, it is just a story of two boys who happen to become famous, but have their difficulties like most of us lesser mortals do. However, the setting shows the  transformation of a nation from the Qing Dynasty to a warlord dominated republic, the Japanese invasion of World War II and then Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

I saw this movie a decade ago and I remember this powerful, dramatic story of one man’s life from the day his mother took a knife and chopped off an extra finger on each hand so he would have five instead of the six he was born with.

The main character is apparently modeled after an actual person—Peking Opera superstar Mei Lanfang—some may imagine that Lanfang was ‘gay’. However, he only specialized in male roles. He was married at least three times and had children.

Discover Not One Less

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel, Running with the Enemy, was awarded an honorable mention in general fiction at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival.

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Peking Opera

March 26, 2013

Peking Opera is a combination of several styles of Chinese opera.

The metamorphosis started during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), about two hundred years ago.

Peking Opera focuses on historical events, legends about emperors, ministers, generals, geniuses and great beauties.

Performances are a combination of singing, dialogue, pantomime and acrobatic fighting and dancing.

Today, Peking Opera is considered the highest expression of Chinese culture.

The origins of Peking Opera did not begin in Peking (Beijing).  The opera had its start in the Chinese provinces of Anhui and Hubei.

Experts say the opera was born in 1790 and was originally staged for the royal family and then the public.

There are thousands of these operas that cover the history and literature of China. Peking operas can be divided into two categories.

“Civil” operas focus on singing while “Martial” operas feature acrobatics and stunts.  Some are a combination of both.

If Peking Opera interests you, see Chinese Yu Opera with Mao Wei-tao

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China


China’s Huangmei Opera

October 8, 2012

Anqing, in Anhui Province, is regarded as the hometown of Huangmei Opera and Hui Opera. Anqing was first built in 1217 and is almost eight-hundred years old, but Huangmei Opera first appeared about two centuries ago as a simple drama of song and dance.


Huangmei Opera Troupe

Huangmei opera did not involve the traditional opera gestures which often-used sleeves and step movements. The music is performed with a pitch that hits high and stays high and does not sound like the typical rhythmic Chinese opera.

The fairy tale of the Cowherd and the Weaving Girl is one of the four most famous folktales of ancient China. It is a classic love story between a fairy and a human being and has a widespread influence. The Qixi Festival is said to have something to do with the fairy tale, and the seventh day of every seventh month of the lunar calendar has become the Chinese Valentine’s Day.

Chinese opera together with Greek tragic-comedy and Indian Sanskrit Opera are the three oldest dramatic art forms in the world.

Discover Peking Opera

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Jingyun Dagu, Beijing’s Story Telling Opera

September 21, 2010

Jingyun Dagu is a form of Chinese opera where stories are often sung in a Beijing dialect accompanied by a drum along with one or two other musical instruments. 

The stress is on singing and depicts the stories in short episodes.

Dagu was first popular near the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and is still popular in China’s capital today.

One super star of Dagu is Luo Yusheng,who was born in 1914. Her stage name is Xiao Caiwu.  Even in her 90s, she emcees TV programs and occasionally performs.

This link, Happy Spring Festival, will take you to a video of Luo Yusheng performing for about 2.5 minutes in 1995, playing wooden clappers and drum while singing in a Beijing dialect.

Although this performance of Dagu is not her best known work, it was the only example I found on the Internet and I couldn’t embed the video in the post.

Well known by most of China, her fans call her the Queen of the Golden Voice. She studied Peking Opera at the age nine and switched to Dagu at 17. 

After the PRC was founded in 1949, Dagu singers were regarded as people’s artists or actors, who sang traditional stories and new operas with themes reflecting contemporary life such as patriotic Communist stories like Glorious Journey, Red Flag Over Mount Everest, and Patriotism and Roaring Waves.

The singer/drummer is often accompanied by the Sihu (a four-stringed instrument similar to an Erhu) and Pipa (lute) in addition to three-stringed lutes and wooden clappers. One of the sources for this post was China Culture.org.

See Peking Opera

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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Farewell, My Concubine

April 2, 2010

Chen Kaige, self-trained as a filmmaker, was the director for this award winning 1993 film. Prior to “Farewell, My Concubine“, Chen received modest acclaim for the “Yellow Earth” and “The Big Parade”. With “Farewell, My Concubine,” he won the Palme d-or in Cannes.

Farewell, My Concubine

Although the film is in Mandarin with English subtitles, the story captured me from the beginning. If you are interested in Chinese history, this film spans several decades beginning near the end of the Ch’ing Dynasty. On the surface, it is just a story of two boys who happen to become famous, but have their difficulties like most of us lesser mortals do. However, the setting shows the  transformation of a nation from the Ch’ing Dynasty to a warlord dominated republic, the Japanese invasion of World War II and then Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

I saw this movie a decade ago and I remember this powerful, dramatic story of one man’s life from the day his mother took a knife and chopped off an extra finger on each hand so he would have five instead of the six he was born with.

The main character is apparently modeled after an actual person—Peking Opera superstar Mei Lanfang—some may imagine that Lanfang was ‘gay’. However, he only specialized in male roles. He was married at least three times and had children.

Discover Not One Less

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.  This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Peking Opera

April 1, 2010

Peking Opera is a combination of several styles of Chinese opera.

The metamorphosis started during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), about two hundred years ago.

Peking Opera focuses on historical events, legends about emperors, ministers, generals, geniuses and great beauties.

Performances are a combination of singing, dialogue, pantomime and acrobatic fighting and dancing.

Today, Peking Opera is considered the highest expression of Chinese culture.

The origins of Peking Opera did not begin in Peking (Beijing).  The opera had its start in the Chinese provinces of Anhui and Hubei.

Experts say the opera was born in 1790 and was originally staged for the royal family and then the public.

There are thousands of these operas that cover the history and literature of China. Peking operas can be divided into two categories.

“Civil” operas focus on singing while “Martial” operas feature acrobatics and stunts.  Some are a combination of both.

If Peking Opera interests you, see Chinese Yu Opera with Mao Wei-tao

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China