Even if you don't understand a word of Chinese I highly recommend a night at the Opera! Wonderful costumes, Great Music, and superb acting make for a Great evening! All for the US$.26 cent admission price. (Circa 1987) I'm sure the price has increased since I was there!
I am not sure if this place is interesting for you and maybe not a "must see activity" if you are just few days in Beijing. Even I didn't visited this place when I was the first two times in Beijing.
But who is Mei Lanfang? Well, he is the most popular Beijing Opera singer and he even had some performances in Europe, USA and Japan. With his voice, movements, style,.. he played female roles perfectly.
I don't understand Beijing Opera but when I visited such a performance I was very impressed. So, at least for me, it was a 'must see activity' to visit the Residence of Mr. Mei Lanfang. ( 1894 - 1961)
Open: daily 9:00 -12: 00 a.m. and 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. (except Monday)
The Peking opera is a real must see, but dont expect to understand it if you are not Chinese its very colourful bright and extremely noisy and bears absolutely no resemblance to western opera.After about ten minutes your eyes may start to glaze over and you will develop a strange ringing in the ears depending on how close to a speaker you are sitting but you have got to try it, there will be someone there who will explain the plot to you and its ok to leave before it finishes but the memory of the lights,colours,cymbols clashing and singing very closely related to Mr Punch will stay with you a long time
No visit to Beijing would be complete without a visit to the Peking Opera. The mixture of bright costumes, vivid makeup, singing(???) and gymnastics is extremely entertaining. Keep an eye on the english translation shown on a display to the side. Sometimes the translation is very amusing.
Visit at the Beijing Opera School
Here you can see kids singing opera, acrobating, and dancing...
I was so surprised when I visited this school, the building was not in a very good conditon, it was cold, and the teachers were very stricked.
But the young children were also very good in the things they where doing.
This is really unique.... I have never seen or heard something like this before... I can not say I really enjoyed it, because it sound very strange for me. But it does not sound like the opera we are used to here in Europe.
But I think it is good to have experienced this, because this is a very important part of their culture and history.
Beijing Opera (or Peking Opera) has existed for over 200 years. It is widely regarded as the highest expression of the Chinese culture. It is known as one of the three main theatrical systems in the world. Artistically, Beijing Opera is perhaps the most refined form of opera in the world. It has deeply influenced the hearts of the Chinese people. Although it is called Beijing Opera, its origins are not in Beijing but in the Chinese provinces of Anhui and Hubei. Beijing Opera got its two main melodies, Xi_Pi and Er_Huang, from Anhui and Hubei operas. It then absorbed music and arias from other operas and musical arts in China.
The Chinese Opera.
Very different from our operas!! I will never get used to this kind of music but it's a must to see this performance. I think it's really a perfect synthesis of singing, pantomime, acrobatics and lyric! If you really watch their gesticulations and facial expressions you can figure out the theme without reading the text at the side wall.
In the lobby we had the opportunity to watch the artists painting their face
Do you know Beijing Opera?It's Chinese National opera,dated from 200 years ago.There are five main roles ,Sheng(Middle aged man),Dan(young lady),Jing,Mo and Chou(funny roles).Beijing Opera is popular with old people in China.Nowadays,more and more young people are taking interests in it.
Beijing Opera at Liyuan Theatre
We went to Liyuan Theatre at Jianguo Hotel to see the Beijing Opera. Their opera was easy to see for the foreigners. English sub-title appears on the board. The contents of opera consists of the famous part of the renowned opera, somersaults, scuffles and etc. You can enjoy it by your eyes even if you don't understand Chinese. If those who want to see a real one, you have to go the theater such as Changan Great Theater.
Lighted boards on both sides of the stage supply the dialogues in English. The spectacle includes theater, dance and juggling.
Before, we had a standard dinner.
The hall looks like Moulin Rouge one.
The Making up of the Opera of Beijing actors
The women characters are acted by men. It is allowed to see them making up.
Previously, taking photographes was possible only with a payment.