Beijing Opera, also known as “Peking Opera,” is one of the most representative performing art of Chinese culture. It is the largest Chinese opera form, and is extolled as “Oriental Opera.”
Having a history of 160 years, the Beijing Opera is developed from absorbing many other dramatic forms, mostly from the local drama ‘Huiban’ which was popular in South China during the 18th century. It is a scenic art combining music, performance, literature, aria, and face-painting. The performance focuses on the technique of expression and different roles have different meanings.
Some main roles in Beijing Opera are: Sheng, a common name of male characters; Dan, the general name for female characters; and Jing, which refers to some male characters with particular appearances or personalities. Lots of them are based on the real historical people.
Another feature of Beijing Opera is the facial painting, also known as Lianpu. Lianpu is regarded as the colorful dressing on actors’ faces. The colors are varied with each characters to represent different themes. For instance, red symbolizes loyalty, such as Guanyu, a great general during Three Kingdoms Period (220-280). Black signifies honesty and frankness.
Beijing Opera portrays the soul of Chinese national culture. It is the unique and eternal treasure of China.