So I don’t know if you are entirely familiar with Opera of any kind, but I had heard about how important to Chinese culture the Beijing Opera. There’s been movies and documentaries about the Opera and what the people go through to be a part of it; to keep this crazy and interesting part of their culture alive.
It’s a pretty wild experience. If you clicked the video above, which I’m sure you have by now. You will have discovered the true meaning of the word caterwauling. The ol’ Peking Opera is something to really take in. Besides the elaborate costumes, they tell interesting folklore stories, use only a few very simple instruments to orchestrate the production. While half of the Opera is singing and dancing the other part includes some intense high-flying acrobatics and choreographed on-stage battles.
The plays are normally several acts long and take a few hours, we experienced a tourist-friendly version that included subtitles on big displays and was only 45 minutes long, showing two different plays. Act I was a play about a concubine and an emperor leading into battle and how the power of music motivated the soldiers to win. It was bonkers and the lady ends up killing herself because China. Act II is about this lady who needs to steal secret mushroom to revive her dead husband but in order to do that she must climb Kunlun mountain and defeat a crane god and a deer god because they were so the guardians of the mountain.
Another thing interesting unique to this style of story-telling are the masks used in the Opera They are color coordinated according to their personality, character type or role. (So much for subtle foreshadowing, y’all.)
- White: sinister, evil, crafty, treacherous, and all around a suspicious fella. Anyone wearing a white mask is usually the villain.
- Green: impulsive, violent, often makes rash decisions.
- Red: brave or loyal type.
- Black: rough, fierce, and a totally righteous dude.
- Yellow: ambitious, fierce, cool-headed, but also kinda like cruel and calculating.
- Blue: steadfast, someone who is loyal and sticks to one side no matter what.
- Silver/Gold: Often used for gods or Buddha but sometimes for ghost bros too.
This’ll be my last Beijing post. Katie has some great posts about the next few stops on our journey. I think she captures the spirit of our trip really well for leaving Beijing, and taking the trains to DaTong, and Pingyao. I’ll be making a picture portfolio page in the coming days that will feature the best pictures I’ve taken. I’ll probably post my best pictures instead of making a whole post on it.
Class just started back up today and I’m so excited. I missed teaching these guys!