2019 BFSU ISS's cultural trip to Liyuan Theater
On the evening of July 14, 29 international experts and teaching assistants arrived at their next stop —— Jianguo Hotel. International experts had high expectations for the art of Peking opera, so did the teaching assistants, because for most of them, this was also the first time to watch a live Peking opera performance. It was fair to say that their high expectations added a profound meaning to this culture trip.
The dark sky set off the solemnity and classic Chinese style of Jianguo Hotel, a landmark in honor of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Two stone columns in front of the hotel like spreading wings extended a warm welcome to the team, consisting of people from across the world. Upon their arrival, a man who spoke typical Beijing dialect and wore a Chinese tunic suit warmly greeted us. He showed the team into the hotel and set the members at four Chinese square tables.
The performance was still 30 minutes away. A performer who was about to play Xiang Yu, a classic role in Peking Opera, was putting on his facial makeup on the stage. The whole makeup process was open for public appreciation. Many international experts, impressed by the scene, went near to the stage to have a close look and take pictures. When the facial makeup completed, a man came to help Xiang Yu put on a black and golden belt and head ornaments. When Xiao Yu took on his sword, the audience gave a standing ovation to the performer, as though what they had been looking at was a piece of fine art rather than a simple pre-performance preparation. Then the stage was set and the performance began. The whole performance had three scenes：Qiujiang, The Fairy Scattering Flowers, Conqueror Xiang Yu Parts with His Concubine. Foreign nationals in the audience could understand the meaning of the performers’ singing by the bilingual subtitles on the screen. The wonderful performance excited many rounds of applause, especially when the performers did some demanding dance movements. Flying silk sleeves, melodious singing and the performers’ alluring look in the eyes embodies the guideline of Peking opera performance: Every sound is like singing and every movement is like dancing. Conqueror Xiang Yu Parts with His Concubine marked the climax of that performance. Greater number of performers on stage significantly strengthened the stage effect and the articulate singing of Xiang Yu excited each and every one in the audience.
The whole performance made a wonderful presentation of the four performing basics: chang (stylized action), nian (singing), zuo (dialog and mime), da (acrobatic dancing) and the four classic roles: sheng (male role), dan (female roles), jing (roles with facial painting) and chou (clown roles) in the art of Peking Opera. This artistic representation provided the international experts with enormous artistic pleasure. Of particular note, the background music was played mostly by young artists who demonstrated the everlasting dynamism of the precious art form. Obviously, the future of Peking Opera is hopeful and promising.
After the show, our international experts bought some fine souvenirs. Then all participants had a group photo before the grand Liyuan plaque. Surely, every expert would gain new insight into the Chinese culture.