Beijing Opera of China is a national treasure with a history of 200
years. In the 55th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing
Dynasty (1790) , the four big Huiban opera Troupes entered the capital
and combined with Kunqu opera, Yiyang opera, Hanju opera and Luantan in
Beijing's theoretical circle of the time. Over a period of more than
half a century of combination and integration of various kinds of opera
there evolved the present Beijing Opera. Beijing Opera is the most
significant of all operas in China, and it has a richness of repertoire,
great number of artists and audiences, that give it a profound
influence in China and plays a large role in Chinese culture.
Beijing Opera is a synthesis of stylized action,
singing, dialogue and mime, acrobatic fighting and dancing to represent
a story or depict different characters and their feelings of gladness,
anger, sorrow, happiness, surprise, fear and sadness. The characters may
be loyal or treacherous, beautiful or ugly, good or bad, their images
being vividly manifested.
Beijing Opera masks originates from totem in
ancient times, develops into facial paintings of the Song and Yuan
Dynasties, and eventually takes the shape of facial costume of the Ming
and Qing Dynasties. It is a pattern of put-on facial make-up for opera
actors and actresses in the stereotype roles of "painted face" and
clown. It plays the artistic functions of implying commendatory and
derogatory connotations and differentiating benevolence and malevolence,
enabling the audience to get a glimpse of the inner world of actors and
actresses through their symbolic facial make-up. In this sense, facial
make-up has obtained the reputation as "painting of heart and soul".
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