The Traditional Peking Opera: An Actor Prepares
The setting for the traditional Peking Opera is simple and bare. By contrast, the costumes and masks are elaborate and colorful. At the Liyuan Theatre in Beijing, we were served snacks and tea before the performance. The operas included the "Farewell to Concubine," where the General bound by duty but doomed by probable defeat in battle, is distracted by his concubine through song and dance. The concubine in "The Drunken Concubine," is disappointed that the Emperor has chosen another and has left her stranded with the banquet
she had prepared for him. She buries her sorrow with food-and drink. In the comedic mime, "The Crossroad," two men become engaged in battle in the dark until, at last, their true identities are brought to light.
The combination of authentic instrumentation, mastery of
symbolic gesture, acrobatic moves, vocal musical intrigue, the notable replication of make-up, masks and wardrobe, makes this cultural event a "must see" for those who appreciate both history and ancient styles of theater.