Chinese Opera is one of the “three oldest dramatic art forms in the world” , along with “Greece tragic-comedy and Indian Sanskrit” (China). From Chinese Opera comes many forms of opera, over 300 types , but the most well known is the Peking Opera (China). The Peking Opera is known by many names, like “Eastern Opera” (history), and “jingqiang” (Xu), but the most common name in the Western world is the “Beijing Opera” (Wertz).
Peking Opera is over 200 years old (Wertz).It started in approximately “1790, when four opera troupes from the province of Anhui came to Beijing to perform on the occasion of the 80th birthday of the emperor, Qianlong” (HISTORY; Xu). It was originally performed in “open air, teahouses or temple courtyards” (Wertz).
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“The traditional repertoire of Beijing opera includes more than 1,000 works” (Wertz). “Today, as in the past, a student of Chinese opera must master a wide range of performance skills, broken down into the four categories: chang (singing); zuo (performing); nian (speaking); da (martial arts)” (Washington). In Peking Opera there are four types of characters, and each one has their own set of “performance conventions” (HISTORY). Sheng, which is a male role. Dan, which is any female role (HISTORY). Jing, which is the painted face male role. And Chou, which is a male clown role. These roles have their own particular age, sex, social status, and makeup style (Wertz). There are “15 basic facial patterns, but over 1000 specific variations” (HISTORY) that can be used on the Jing character. Each of these four roles play an extremely important part in the story of the opera that is being performed.
There is a reason for the names that each role has been given, “It is said that they were chosen to have opposite meanings” (Wertz). Sheng can mean rare, which is a contradiction to the role, as the role is one of the most prominent roles in the production. Dan can mean masculine, which is also the opposite of the according role as females are not usually viewed as masculine. Jing can mean clean, but as its according role is the painted face role it is obvious that they are not clean. Chou can sometimes mean ox, which are usually considered to be slow,