Beijing Opera Essay Research Paper Beijing opera

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Beijing Opera Essay, Research Paper Beijing opera is a national treasure of China with a history of 200 years. In the 55th year of the Qing Dynasty (1790), the four big Huiban opera entered the capital and combined with Kunqu opera, Yiyang opera, Hanju opera and Luantan in Beijing. Through a period of more than 50 years of combination and integration of various kinds of opera there evolved the present Beijing opera. Beijing opera is a combination of stylized action, singing, dialogues, acrobatic fighting and dancing to represent a story or depict different characters and their feelings of anger, sorrow, happiness, surprise, fear and sadness. In Beijing opera there are four main types of roles: sheng (male) dan (young female), jing (painted face, male), and chou (clown, male

or female). Sheng has some sub-categories, including Senior, Junior, Acrobatic, Junior Acrobatic, Child, Red-face, Poor, Official, etc. These are classified according to the role’s characteristics. Male roles are either civil or military. The actors themselves are mainly trained for three main parts: Senior Male Role or Lao Sheng, a middle-aged or old man who wears a beard, Junior Male Role or Xiao Sheng (Hsiao sheng), a young man; and Acrobatic Male Role or Wu Sheng, a man of military tenor, especially skilled in acrobatics. Lao Sheng actors are required to attain the dignity of bearing and gentle, polished manners of the middle-aged mandarin official or scholar; in military plays they may be a general or high-ranking officer of a gentler and more educated character than of

the painted faces. Their apparel accordingly is of good quality but not too garish in its design or color. A Lao Sheng has a black or white beard, depending on his age, and wears a black hat with two fins on either side, which vary in shape according to his rank in a civil role. When a military role is played, the costume is quieter and of a more uniform color than those of the warriors in the painted-face roles, but the Kao or amour is also worn. A Lao Sheng’s voice is soft and pleasant to listen to, neither too harsh nor too high pitched, but gentle and firm. Minor officials or landowners who have attained a small degree of responsibility are also included in this role. The junior male or Xiao Sheng requires of its actor the distinguishing feature of a swirl on his forehead

and high-pitched voice to indicate his youth. The part is extremely difficult to sing, and when the actor is speaking his voice must suddenly drop from its high-pitched quality to indicate the voice-breaking period of adolescence. The Xiao Sheng is usually small and slight of stature, and his clothes are often quite elaborate if a young man of society or a young warrior is being represented, but can be subdued if they are those of an impoverished scholar. The young warrior can often be distinguished by his long pheasant feathers, which rise in sweeping curves from his hat. No beard is worn for this part. Wu Sheng actors are mainly acrobats, although they sometimes have a part, which requires much acting. They play any part in military or civil plays, which requires a high

standard of acrobats. The skill of these actors is demonstrated in the fighting scenes, which take on a stylized form in Beijing opera, and also in scenes from legendary stories when immortals and devils tumble and twist about the stage showing off feats of skill. In military plays swords and spears are wielded deftly and quickly without the attacker actually touching his opponent. These movements require great precision in timing, and the actor ducks and twists his body, often turning somersaults at same time. If he is a young military officer, the Wu Sheng will also have pheasant feathers in his hat, and four small flags or pennants strapped to his back and high-soled boots, all of which make his acrobatic feats even more spectacular. His costume is often bright in color,