Chinese Opera

Mates: Lam Chi To Toman Woo Hon Kwan Joey Ho Lam Pang Fai Albert Wan Zhong Ka Yu

A Brief History

The rise of the Chinese opera had to be traced back to the Zhou dynasty. When Zhou first adopted the Fēngjiàn system (Feudalism)

3 Sovereigns & 5 Emperors Shang Dynasty Spring and Autumn Eastern Zhou

Timeline Xia Dynasty Western Zhou Warring states Zhou

The Rise of Chinese Opera (1)
During Zhou, an emperor, after taking advice from Mèng Zǐ (Mencius) decided that some “popular music” would be more suitable for the country

• 372-289 BC • A Chinese philosopher • Established Confucianism

The rise of Chinese Opera (2)
Then, during the Qin Dynasty, The Imperial Bureau is established. During Han, the bureau was greatly expanded by emperor Han Wu Di. From then on, the bureau was charged with supervising powers

The Rise of Chinese Opera (3)
• At that time and afterwards, the Chinese music is greatly influenced by foreign countries especially the Central Asia • The music then become the “today’s Chinese Opera”

The Branches
Northern Branches Southern Branches Others

The Northern Branches
• Henan Opera (Henan Bangzi) • Qin Opera • Beijing Opera

Henan Opera

Beijing (Peking) Opera
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The Southern Branches
• • • • • • • • • • Suzhou Opera( 蘇州 ) Ballad-sing Yue Opera Hù Opera Hunanese Opera Gaojia Opera Liyuan Opera Puppet Opera PuTian Opera Min Opera( 福州戲 )

• Cantonese Opera ( 粵劇 ) • Sichuan Opera ( 川劇 ) • Huangmeixi ( 黃梅調 )

Four Great Characteristic Melodies
• Bangziqiang ( 梆子腔 ) • Huangpiqiang ( 黄皮腔 ) • Kunqiang ( 崑腔 ) • Gaoqiang ( 高腔 )

Cantonese Opera

The 4 Elements

Princess Chang Ping

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The Story
The story of Princess Chang Ping ( 帝女花 ) is a Chinese legend about a princess and her lover at late Ming Dynasty. It has been made into a Cantonese Opera by Tang Tisheng, a very prolific Cantonese opera adaptor of the early to mid-1900s. The premiere was featured in the Lee Theatre on 7 June 1957 and has achieved amazing box office results since then.

Another typical example

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Does Peking Opera equals to Chinese Opera?

Roles of Play
There’re 4 roles in Chinese Opera: • Sheng (male) • Tan (female) • Ching • Chou

Sheng (Male)
Idea: Sheng refers to male characters with face painted lightly comparing to other characters It can be further divide into 3 types: Lao Sheng (mature/old men) Hsiao Sheng (youngsters) Wu Sheng (military men)

Lao Sheng

Hsiao Sheng

Wu Sheng

Tan (Female)
Idea: They’re female characters with different occupations It can be further divided into 5 types: Lao Tan (old women) Hua Tan (young lady) Chin Yi (young maids) Tao Ma Tan (female warriors/fighters) Wu Tan (young maids)

Lao Tan

Hua Tan

Chin Yi

Tao Ma Tan

Wu Tan

Idea: It refers to characters with heavily painted face It can be further divided into 2 sub-types: Wen Ching Wu Ching

Wen Ching
Wen Ching can be further divided into 2 more types: Cheng Ching (heroic characters) Fu Ching (characters neither good nor bad)

Wen Ching (2)

Wu Ching

Idea: It refers to clownish and funny personnel It can be further divided into 3 sub-types: Wen Chou (folk men) Wu Chou (military clown) Chou Po Tze (women crown)

Wen Chou

Wu Chou

Chou Po Tze

The Make Up

Lao Sheng

Hsiao Sheng

Wu Sheng


Hua Tan


Wen Chou

Wu Chou

The Costumes
Costumes play an important role on telling the audience the status of a specific character

This is the most common accessories amongst the costume series Different characters wear different hats:

Fake beards
Sheng, Chou and Ching wear “beards” to associate with facial expressions and body gestures


Again, they tell the audience the status of the characters

The musical instruments
Bowed String Instruments Wind Instruments Plucked String Instruments

Bowed String Instruments
Major components: • bamboo bow • horse tail hair Characteristics: • Elegant sound • Clear local image

Wind Instruments
Types: • Without reeds (aloe) • With double-reeds (aloe) • With single-reed (aloe)

Plucked String Instruments
Types: • Seven stringed zithers • Pipa

Video Clip Introduction