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Chinese Opera




Peking Opera
Introduction ----- Chinese Operas
 Chinese Opera has been acknowledged as one of
the greatest ancient dramas in the world,
paralleling the Comedies and Tragedies of Greece
and the Sanskrit (梵文) Drama of India.

 The Chinese opera is a traditional form of stage

entertainment, weaving together elements of
mime, dance, song, dialogue, swordplay, and
acrobatics into one fluid continuous flow.
Gestures, movements and expressions
incorporated within each performer's script come
together to bring forth an impressive performance.
Introduction ----- Chinese Operas

•In contrast to Western stage entertainment,

which is subdivided into different categories such
as opera, drama and sketches(幽默短剧) ,
Chinese opera has remained faithful to its original
format over the centuries.

•Their origin can be traced back to primitive

society but the prototype(雏形) for Chinese opera
actually appeared in the Song dynasty about 800
years ago.
Introduction ----- Chinese Operas

Although sharing a common ancestry, Chinese

opera boasts over 300 various distinct forms -
taking their names from their places of origin.
These forms are generally discernible(可是别的)
by their use of local dialects and distinct
'melodies'. Beijing opera is considered by most to
be the most refined. Also widespread are Pingju
Opera, Kunqu Opera, Shaoxing Opera, Henan
Opera, Sichuan Opera, Shanxi Opera, Huangmei
Opera, Huagu Opera and Yangko Opera. Some
Chinese ethnic minority groups have some local
form of operas.
 Beijing opera 京剧
 Errenzhuan 二人转
 (Northeast China)
 Hebei bangzi 河北梆子 (Hebei)
 Jiju 吉剧 (Jilin)
 Lüju 吕剧 (Shandong)
 Pingju 评剧 (Hebei)
 Puju 蒲剧 (Shanxi)
 Qinqiang/Qin dynasty opera 秦腔 (Shaanxi)
 Shandong bangzi (Shandong)
 Shanxi bangzi (Shanxi)
Southern (main )
 Cantonese opera (Guangdong)
 Chaozhou opera
 Ganju/Yiyangqiang (Jiangxi)
 Huju (Shanghai)
 Kunqu
 Liyuan opera
 Puppet opera
 Shaoxing opera/Yueju (Zhejiang)
 Suzhou opera (Suzhou)
 Taiwanese opera
 Wuju (Jinhua)
Varieties of Chinese Opera
Over 300 types all together

Beijing Opera (京剧)

Yue Opera(越剧)
Huangmei Opera (黄梅戏)
Yu Opera(豫剧)
Ping Opera(评剧)
Kun Opera(昆剧)
Hebei Clapper Opera(河北梆子)
Chuan Opera(川剧)
Yue Opera(越剧)
Lu Opera(吕剧)
Beijing Opera (京剧)

Beijing Opera, once called 'Peking

Opera', is the most influential and
representative of all operas in China
and has a history of over 200 years.
Beijing Opera is noticeable for four
highly systemized categories of
singing, acting, reciting and
acrobatic fighting.
The Four roles in Beijing Opera
Famous Plays in Beijing Opera

 The Gathering Of Heroes《群英会》

 The Empty City《空城计》
 The Orphan of the Zhao《赵氏孤儿》
 The Female Generals of the Yang《杨门女将》
 Red Lantern《红灯记》
 The Sparks in Reed Marshes《芦荡火种》
 To Take the Weihu Mountain by Strategy《智
Yue Opera越剧

Yue Opera is a local opera popular in

the southern regions of the Changjiang
River. Yue Opera has a history of
nearly 100 years. The famous performer
Yuan Xuefen(袁雪芬), contributed
significantly to the reform of this
opera. Well known plays include The
Butterfly’s Love《梁山伯与祝英台》, The
Dream of Red Mansions《红楼梦》and The
West Chamber《西厢记》.
Huangmei Opera黄梅戏

 Huangmei Opera, once called 'Huangmei Tune'

(黄梅调), is a local opera in Anhui
Province, was basically derived from the
'Caicha Tune'(采茶调, tea-picking tunes)
of Huangmei county. The Huangmei Opera uses
the talents of the well-known performer,
Yan Fengying(阎凤英), and the traditional
plays are The Heavenly Maid and the Mortal
《天仙配》and Female Son-in-Law of the
Yu Opera豫剧
Yu Opera, also called 'Henan Clapper
Opera'(河南梆子)or 'Henan High Tune'
(河南高调), is a major local opera in
Henan Province and enjoys nationwide
popularity. There are more than 600
traditional plays in the repertoire of Yu
Opera, among them are Playing Short
Spears《对花枪》and The Beheading of
Chen Shimei 《铡美案》. The most
famous performer is Chang Xiangyu(常
Ping Opera评剧

Ping Opera is a traditional opera widely

popular in Beijing, Tianjin, North and
Northeast China. It is especially good at
reflecting life of urban people and has
gained great favor from people both in rural
and urban areas. Classic plays include
Flower, a Matchmaker《花为媒》and Du
Shi Niang《杜十娘》, to name just a few.
Representative performers are Xiao Bai
Yushuang(小白玉霜)and Xin Fengxia(
Kun Opera昆曲

Kun Opera, also called 'Kunshan Qiang' (

昆山腔)', originated in the Kunshan region
of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China's
classical operas with a history of more
than 600 years. The traditional plays of
Kun Opera include The Injustice to Dou E
《窦娥冤》, The West Chamber《西厢记
》, The Peach Blossom Fan《桃花扇》,
The Peony Pavilion《牡丹亭》and Palace
of Eternal Youth《长生殿》. The
representative performers are Yu Zhenfei
(俞振飞)and Hong Xuefei(洪雪飞).
Hebei Clapper Opera河北梆子

Hebei Clapper Opera is a local opera

which originated in Hebei Province, yet
also became very popular in Beijing,
Tianjin and some regions of Hebei,
Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Inner
Mongolia and Shandong Provinces.
Representative plays include The
Generals of the Yang《杨家将》, Lotus
Lantern《宝莲灯》and Qin Xianglian《秦
Chuan Opera川剧
Chuan Opera is one of the oldest local
operas in China, mainly prevalent in Sichuan
province and parts of Yunnan and Guizhou
provinces. There are some unique and rare
features of Chuan Opera used to depict(描绘
)certain characters. For example, the actors
with a third eye on their forehead can
suddenly open it and have an insight into the
past and the future; some actors can change
their facial make-ups with a quick swing of
the head; and some are proficient at jumping
through burning hoops or hiding swords.
They are perfectly integrated with the plot of
the play, the mood and the personality of the
Yue Opera 粤剧
 Yue Opera is a major opera prevalent in areas
where people speak Guangdong dialect, such
as Guangdong and Guangxi provinces, Hong
Kong, Macao and overseas Chinese
communities in Southeast Asia. Its orchestra(管
弦乐队) has adopted Western instruments such
as violin, saxophone, cello(大提琴) and double
bass(大贝斯或低音提琴), in addition to Chinese
traditional instruments like Erhe(二胡),
Gaohu(高胡), Sanxian(三弦), and Yueqin
(月琴). In acting, stage scenery and lighting,
the techniques of modern drama and Western
opera have been integrated. A leading actress is
Hong Xiannu(红线女)
Chinese Musical Instruments

 wind instruments (吹奏乐器)

 bowed string instruments(拉弦乐器)
 plucked string instruments (弹拨乐器)
percussion instruments.(打击乐器)
Wind or Blowing Instruments 吹奏乐器

The wind instruments are mainly made

of bamboo or wood and are in the form
of a pipe. They can produce smooth
and sonorous (调子高的,响亮的)sound
by wind blowing through the pipe.
There is a variety of wind
instruments used in Chinese music,
among them are the Dizi, Xiao and
Sheng. These play a key role in
various musical ensembles(重奏).
Wind or Blowing Instruments 吹奏乐器

Bowed String Instrument拉弦乐器

The bowed string instruments produce from

the vibration of the strings sweet sound and
rich tone colors. Most of Chinese bowed
string instruments belong to the Huqin(胡
琴)group, such as the Erhu, the Gaohu
and the Banhu, the former two have
sounding membranes(薄膜) made of
python(蟒蛇) skin, while the later one has a
wooden sounding board. They can express
profound feelings and display exquisite(精湛
的) skills of the performer.
Bowed String Instrument拉弦乐器



Plucked String Instrument弹拨乐器

The plucked string instruments are played

by plucking the strings with fingers or
plectrums(弦拨). There are various kinds
of plucked string instruments made of
different forms. The group of the plucked
string instrument mainly includes the
Guqin, Zheng and Pipa.
Plucked String Instrument弹拨乐器


琵琶 三弦
The history of percussion instruments in
China is longer than any other category of
traditional instruments. The character of
'drum' was first found in the inscriptions on
bones and tortoise shells of the Shang
Dynasty. China has an enormous variety
of percussion instruments and the more
popular ones are the Gu, Zhong, Bo and
Luo, which can make sounds full of
appeals and local color.

锣 钹

鼓 木鱼
Peking Opera

History of Peking Opera

Roles of Peking Opera

Facial masks
Brief Introduction
Beijing opera or Peking opera is a form
of traditional Chinese theatre which
combines music, vocal performance,
mime, dance and acrobatics<杂技>. The
form was extremely popular in the Qing
Dynasty court and has come to be
regarded as one of the cultural
treasures of China. It has also spread
to other countries such as the United
States and Japan.
 Beijing opera was born when the "Four Great
Anhui Troupes" brought Anhui opera, or what is
now called Huiju, to Beijing in 1790, for the
birthday of the Qianlong Emperor. Beijing opera
was originally staged for the court and came into
the public later. In 1828, some famous Hubei
troupes came to Beijing. They often jointly
performed in the stage with Anhui troupes. The
combination gradually formed Beijing opera's
melodies. Beijing opera is generally regarded as
having fully formed by 1845.Although it is called
Beijing opera (Beijing theatre style), its origins
are in the southern Anhui and eastern Hubei
 Beijing opera is not actually a monolithic<单块的>
form, but rather a coalescence <联合>of many
older forms.
 Performers utilize the skills of speech, song,
dance, and combat in movements that are
symbolic and suggestive, rather than realistic.
The skill of performers is evaluated according
to the beauty of their movements. Performers
also adhere to a variety of stylistic conventions
that help audiences navigate the plot of the
production. The layers of meaning within each
movement must be expressed in time with
music. Beijing opera are based on Chinese
history, folklore, and, increasingly,
contemporary life.
 Beijing opera was initially an exclusively male
pursuit. The Qianlong Emperor had banned all
female performers in Beijing in 1772. The
appearance of women on the stage began
unofficially during the 1870s. Female performers
began to impersonate male roles and declared
equality with men. By 1894, the first commercial
venue showcasing female performance troupes
appeared in Shanghai. This encouraged other
female troupes to form, which gradually increased in
popularity. As a result, theatre artist Yu Zhenting俞振
庭 petitioned(请愿)for the lifting of the ban after
the founding of the Republic of China in 1911. This
was accepted, and the ban was lifted in 1912.
●The roles on the Chinese opera stage fall
into four categories: Sheng, Dan, Jing and
●These roles have the natural features of age
and sex, as well as social status, and
are artificially exaggerated by makeup, costume<
戏服> and gestures.

a male role, usually a leading one, dates

back to Southern Drama of the Song and
Yuan Dynasties (960-1368). This role
appears in operas in all historical periods.
Sheng falls into three sub-groups:
Laosheng, Xiaosheng, Wusheng

老生/《甘露寺》 小生/《柳荫记》
 Laosheng is meaning bearded men,
because the actors wear artificial beards, and
they are middle-aged or elderly men. Most
are upright(正直) and resolute(刚毅)
characters. They sing in their natural voices,
and their actions are serious ones.
 Xiaosheng represents young male
characters. They don't wear artificial beards.
They always sing in their real voices, while in
Kunqu and Pihuang operas the singing mixes
natural and falsetto voices.


•Wusheng stands for all of the male

characters who appear in battle scenes.
They always wear helmets and thick-soled
boots. The generals always carry long pikes
or short-handled weapons, . Wusheng roles
call for sturdy and vigorous actions, with
resounding (洪亮的)declamations. The
movements of the waist and legs are
powerful, and a high level of martial arts
skills is demanded in these roles.
Dan is the general term in Peking
Opera for female roles. As early as in
the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the
Dan role appeared. Southern Drama
and Northern Zaju, which developed
during the Song and Yuan Dynasties
Nowadays, the Dan roles are
subdivided into Zhengdan (or
Qingyi),Huandan, Wudan and
Zhengdan role was the main Dan role in the
Northern Zaju. Zhengdan refers to young or
middle-aged women with gentle and refined
dispositions. Most of Zhengdan 's lines are
delivered in song, and even the spoken
parts are recited in rhythmic style. Always
dressed in a blue gown, Zhengdan is also
called Qingyi (blue clothes).饰演大家闺秀和

Huadan is a role for a vivacious maiden, a

young woman with a frank and open
personality, or a woman of questionable


青衣/《贵妃醉酒》 花旦/《拾玉镯》
 Wudan refers to female characters skilled in the
martial arts and can be subdivided into Daomadan
and Wudan, according to the social positions and
skills represented. Daomadan is good at using
pikes and spears, and at riding horses. Wudan
always wears short robes and the role
emphasizes acrobatics. Wudan plays gods and
ghosts and has excellent fighting skills.
 武旦"和"刀马旦"相当于生行中的武生,扮演的是擅
Laodan usually represents aged women.
She sings in their natural voices, in a style
similar to that of Laosheng but in milder
武旦/《穆桂英》 老旦/《秦香莲》
 Jing refers to painted-face roles, known popularly as
Hualian. The different colors and designs on the
faces represent males with different characteristics.
Some are bold and vigorous and some are sinister<
邪恶的>, ruthless, crude and rash(鲁莽). The voice is
loud and clear, and the movements are
exaggerated. The roles represent men of high social
standing and good behavior, often court ministers.
 "净"角脸部化妆最为丰富彩。"净"因面部化妆要用各种

武净/《战宛城》 铜锤/《打龙袍》
The Chou is one of the main roles in Peking
Opera. The eyes and nose are surrounded by
a white patch, so Chou is also known as Xiao
Hua Lian (partly painted face). The Chou roles
originated in Southern Drama of the Song and
Yuan dynasties (960-1368)剧中的"丑"角演员
the Chou roles are divided into two categories:
Wenchou (civilian) and Wuchou (martial).

文丑/《群英会》 武丑/《连环套》
Wuchou requires not only a good command
of the martial arts or acrobatics, but also the
ability to deliver the lines both clearly and
fluently. The movements should be light and
Beijing Opera facial masks
The facial makeup in Chinese opera, is a
special feature of a national cosmetic. As
each historical figure or a certain type of
person has an approximate spectral type,
like sing, play music to the music, so
called “types of facial makeup in operas”.
On the types of facial makeup in operas
sources, the general view is from mask.
•Beijing opera types of facial makeup
in operas are based on certain
personality, temperament or some
special types of figures for the use of
certain colors.
性情或某种特殊类型的人物为采用某些色彩的 。
Red has expressed his Warriors of strong
types of facial makeup in operas such as
Guan Yu, Jiang Wei and Chang Yuchun.
Black said the types of facial makeup
in operas ming criticized people,
integrity, bravery and even reckless,
such as Zhang Fei, Li Kui黑色的脸谱
拯、张飞、李逵等 张飞
Yellow types of facial makeup in operas
that vicious brutality, such as Yuwen
Chengdu, and Dian Wei.黄色的脸谱表示
Blue or green types of facial makeup in
operas that some of the figures
represented irritable, such as Dou
Ambassador, Ma Wu.蓝色或绿色的脸谱

General treacherous court official said
the types of facial makeup in operas
white, bad guys, such as Cao Cao,
Zhao Gao.白色的脸谱一般表示奸臣、坏人

 Gold and silver are used on faces of
deities, spirits and demons.

Classic Works
 "Farewell, My Concubine”

" Mu Guiying takes command"


Zhaojun Left the Fortress

Qin Xianglian

京剧《秦香莲》剧照 张君秋饰演的秦香莲
" Three forks"

Top Scholar as Matchmaker




Uproar in Heaven


The Drunken Beauty

央视: Madam White Snake
常规译: Legend of the White Snake

鸿门宴 Hongmen Banquet
(a feast or meeting set up as a trap for the

the Romance of the West chamber

The Drunken Beauty
The Orphan of the Zhao
The Fairy Scattering Flowers 天女散花
A Startling Dream of Wandering Through
the Garden 游园惊梦
Beauty Defies Tyranny 宇宙锋
Mu Guiying Takes Command 穆桂英挂帅
The Fisherman’s Revenge 打渔杀
Phoenix Returns to its Nest 凤还巢
The Red Lantern 红灯记
Three Kingdoms ambition 三国志
Famous Artists
 Secret of the name
梅 mei, plum (flower)
兰 lan, orchid (flower)
芳 fang, fragrance
 “The Four
Gentlemen” - plum,
chrysanthemum and
bamboo (梅兰菊竹).

His life in art was full of fragrance (芳) when the

flowers (梅plum, 兰orchid) blossom
Mei Lanfang Queen of Peking Opera

Traditionally only men performed Peking

Opera, including the female roles — and
Mei Lanfang was the master. During his
stage life, Mei embellished traditions of
the past with his own creations, shaping a
style of his own, and gave birth to “The
Mei Lanfang School.” He was also the
first artist to introduce Peking Opera to an
overseas audience, winning international
recognition across the globe.
Do you know any other minority characters?
Please introduce one of them.
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