Saturday, April 7, 2012

Peking Duck & Opera

A tale of two dining-rooms: 11 of us round a table eating Peking Duck followed by our first real experience of Peking Opera, in the refectory-like atmosphere of Liyuan Theatre.

Peking Opera has been an artform only since around 1790. It's an acquired taste (as is, frankly, western opera, noh and kabuki) and the show we saw was very much a Greatest Hits package of four heavily abridged favourites. So we had a 20-minute version of The Death of Yu Ji, made famous by its inclusion in the film, Farewell My Concubine. The two lead male & female characters are played by men - one very male (a big, macho, long-bearded warrior), one very female (a dainty, high-pitched concubine). It's all hyper-stylised and I wonder, honestly, whether I could last the full version.
Best of the four was The Crossroads, a confrontation between two men in the pitch-black darkness of an inn, with no spoken word and only minimal music. Classic mime in fact: funny, inventive & beautifully balletic. The children loved it.

bit touristy perhaps (the audience was completely Western) but it was as good an introduction as you could get without watching a DVD - which they had in the souvenir shop on the way out.

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