History Of The Beijing Opera

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As a Chinese international student in Western Michigan University, it is a great opportunity for me to give the presentation to talk about the music – the Beijing Opera, which comes from my own country. The Beijing 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. Although it is called Beijing Opera, its origins are not in Beijing but in the Chinese provinces of Anhui and Hubei province. 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. However, during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), Beijing Opera suffered along with other kinds of operas in China. All the traditional pieces reflecting the Old Societies were banned from performance. The famous Eight Model Plays, featuring the communist activities during the anti-Japanese war and the civil war with the Nationalists, as well as the class struggles after the founding of the People's Republic. In this presentation, I am going to talk about the features of both traditional and revolutionary Beijing Opera, and also some main differences between traditional and revolutionary opera. The basic elements of Beijing Opera are Lianpu (the opera masks), vocal production, stage speech, song and lyric, and music. Lianpu is formed through dramatic artists' long-term practice and their understanding and judgment of the roles in plays. It is the colorful dressing on actors' faces. By using transformative and exaggerated figures, professional spectators would easily tell the characteristic of a role. In this way, it is called 'the picture of hearts'. ... ... middle of paper ... ...ere are three main differences between revolutionary and traditional opera. First, Revolutionary Opera's story is based on communist activities during the anti-Japanese war and the civil war with the Nationalists. However the traditional opera's story is mostly based on historical novels or traditional stories about civil, political and military struggles. Second is the difference of song and lyric. In revolutionary opera songs are more narrative; and lyrics are more modern and easy to understand; however in traditional opera, song is usually high pitch, lyrics are written in couplets, consisting of two lines. Finaliy, the music between traditional and revolutionary opera is different. The instrument played in revolutionary opera is not only Jinghu, but also have some western instruments; however Jinghu is the primary accompaniment for the traditional Beijing opera.

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