Sichuan Opera/Other Performances, Chengdu
Bian Lian "Face-Changing" is an ancient Chinese very dramatic art that seen in Sichuan form of Chinese opera. The Performers have on extremely bright colored costumes and dance to fast, dramatic music. They also wear vividly colored masks, of well known opera characters and they change from one face in an instantaneously with a movement, of the head the swipe of a fan or wave of the hand.
I was luck to have my host in Cnengdu take me to the Shunxing Ancient Teahouse to enjoy performance and dinner. The restaurant is a cavernous space with walking entertainment. men carrying teapots with spouts over a meter long pour tea. The food is delicious; try many Sichuan specialties.
Open daily, show starts at 8pm.
Sichuan opera is a type of Chinese opera originating in China's Sichuan province around 1700.
The performances today are of a more modern style and more relaxed than the Beijing opera, the performance being more like a play.
The show I enjoyed featured performances of song, dance, musical instruments and acrobatics. It finished with the highlight of Sichuan opera - Changing Faces. In this act, the performer wears many coloured fabric masks which he changes as if by magic. Some performers even change their full costume in an instant.
This was my first experience of Chinese Opera and I thoroughly enjoyed it - a must do thing while you are in Chengdu.
This is the famous masks changing opera originally from Sichuan. It costs 80yuan to go watch the performance for about 2 hrs. There were different perfermances like singing, drama opera, playing chinese music instrument and acrobatic, and changing masks was the last perfermance. They were so fast that they could literally change their mask in one second. One keep changing until she showed her face and somehow she can put it back on in a second again. I was sitting on the 1st row and I really couldn't see how they could do it! The whole show was pretty entertaining except that I was dead tired after walking a lot in the day time and woke up very early..
Sichuan Opera also known as Fu Rong Guo Cui is a performance by famous actors and actress and musicians at the Jinjiang Stage every night.
You will see performances like Rolling Lamp in local Sichuan Dialect (performed by a clown and his ***y wife), Mouth Spraying of fire and the ever famous Face Changing (Bian Lian) show.
Ever wonder how they could change their mask so quickly within split seconds? It will take lots of careful observations before you can ind out the special skills and techniques. The Master didnt even teach Andy Lau as this skill was consider national secret
Sichuan opera is one of China's oldest and most popular opera forms. Besides the traditional opera singing and stage acting, Sichuan opera is characterised by unique stunts - face changing, spitting fire, rolling lamps and stick puppetry. It is amazing how the opera masters changed their face mask in a split second, sometimes in rapid succession. The only indication that a mask change is about to take place is when the opera master raises his sleeve or flicks his head to one side.
Spitting fire is another stunt in Sichuan opera. Even the miniature stick puppets can spit fire! If you are seated in the front few rows of the theater, you can feel the surge of heat coming towards you.
Chinese Opera is a must if you want to get a feel of the
soul of ancient China. Beauty itself... Have a good meal before
with traditional Hot Pot..
?@China has an abundance of 1,300 local operas,Sichuan opera is one of the China1s
oldest local operas and is popular in Sichuan province and some regions of Yunnan
and Guizhou provinces. It is the most significant and most interesting opera form from
Southwestern China.As a stage entertain-ment,it conveys the idea of time and
space to the audience through performances. the opera is characterized by its
unique solo singing,refined acting,rich percussion and irresistibly funny come-
dians,Sichuan opera also displays its unique skills: the changing faces, spitting fire,
and rolling light. Numerous Sichuan opera troupes are active throughout the province,
both in the countryside and in the cities.the troupes in Chengdu are rate artistically top level.
?@the face changing, or "bianlian" in Chinese,is an important intangible cultural heritage in
China. only a few masters have grasped this skill. they know how to change Sichuan opera
masks in magically quick succession.As they flourish their arms and twist their heads,
their painted masks change again and again and again.
?@Face changing got its start 300 years ago. At the beginning opera masters changed the
color of their face during performances by blowing into a bowl of red,black or gold powder.
the powder would adhere to their oiled skin quickly. In another method ,actors would
smear their faces with colored paste concealed in the palms of their hands.
?@By the 1920`s,opera masters began using layers of masks made of oiled paper or dried
pig bladder. the masters could peel one after another in the blink of an eye.
At present the masters use the full face,painted silk mask. they can be worn in layers,
as much as two-dozen thick,and be pulled off one by one.
This performer played on some very old music instruments, the names didn't stick in my memory. The music however did!
It was magnificant what kind of music came out of this small instrument, the song was called galloping horses, and we could actually hear the horses....
One of the ancient skills of the Sichuan Opera is changing faces. A performer comes on stage with a yellow face, which changes in an instant to a red one, a green one, a black one and more.
No matter how closely you look, you don't see the mask being changed. But the camera is quicker than the eye........ In the picture the red face is changed into a blue one. At the ned of the show the performer showed us how it is done, it are all thin clothes which they quickly pull away.
The stick puppetshow dates back to the Han Dynasty (202BC-204AD). The puppets are on a stick which is in the hand of the puppetplayer. Both player and puppet are on stage. At first this is a little strange, my attention was repeatedly drawn to the funny movements of the player. But when i concentrated on the puppet it became fabulous, the things they do with a puppet......
After visiting the Beijing Opera we were a little sceptical about another opera. The Beijing Opera was just not our style, the singing (sometimes talking) sounded like a screaming cat. And there was not much action on stage. But we were convinced by our tourleader, this was something completely different, much more show.
She was right ! There were a few dull moments and the combination of acrobatics, changing faces, spitting fire and stick-puppets with the opera was super. The performance was only one hour or so, but it was just good.
We visited the Sichuan Opera in the Shufengyayun Operatic Circle in the Chengdu Culture Park.
A distinct regional art form, this spectacular theatrical presentation features bright sets and costumes, plus a combination of music, dance and acrobatics. Also thoroughly delightful is the city's Children's Opera Troupe, featuring performances between the ages of five and fourteen.
Watch performances in an open air courtyard and be served tea from one of those long spout kettles.
Music performance - the musician plays the erhu and uses his skills to create a melody that imitates the galloping of horses (excellent!!)
Shadow Play - the artiste makes use of his fingers to create shadows of animals and images on a screen.
Mask Play (or Bianlian) - the performers switch masks within split seconds.
Opera - Don't really know what's going on but still enjoyable.
Puppetry - the artiste skillfully manipulates the puppets (rather lifelike)
It was fabulous! It was pretty low-key as operas go, and the music was punctuated with loud cymbals and the oboe and Chinese violin.. and the singing itself was sometimes so loud and shrill as to be a bit scary, actually... but I thoroughly enjoyed it! The depth of emotion portrayed in the expressions and the voices, the beauty of the language and the humor in the story, the realness of it all.... I wanted it to go on forever! The other travelers I went with didn't like it as much and actually went to sleep during the performance... I think it wasn't what they were expecting. I have heard the style of music before and so didn't find it grating as I'm guessing they did. I really found myself wishing that I spoke Mandarin so that I could catch the subtleties of the story and hear the puns! I wanted to know what they were laughing at! Having a translator was great, but obviously so much was missed! But it was great!!
Spitting fire is a skill unique to the Sichuan Opera. Ofcourse we all know street performers who spit fire, but this something different and an ages old tradition.
Sichuan is famous for its opera, acrobat and the world renowned changing faces act. Chengdu is a place where there are live performances of all these every night, so it is a must see.