Ancient Peking Opera theater thrives

Updated: 2011-02-14 10:52


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Want to watch an old-style Peking Opera performance? Then the Chinese capital's ancient Zhengyici Theater might be a good place to check out. The facility boasts a history dating back 300 years, and has experienced the evanescence of social change, from the Qing Dynasty to modern times.

Ancient Peking Opera theater thrives

Backed by deafening drumbeats, military officials join their fearless soldiers for harsh combat on the battlefield.

This is an act from a classic Peking Opera performance depicted on stage at the Zhengyici Theater. The arias have spectators reminiscing about the past, when feudal China was at war.

This venue is one of the country's oldest wooden structures. It has a rich history that includes stellar appearances by late Peking Opera master Mei Lanfang, who was best known for his graceful portrayal of female roles.

The collaboration between the Mei family and the Zhengyici Theater dates back to the reign of Emperor Guangxu during the Qing Dynasty. From Mei Lanfang's grandfather, to his heir and son Mei Baojiu, all have performed on this grand stage.

And now the facility has become the resident performance headquarters for a Beijing art troupe named after the legendary virtuoso.

Zhou Jiaxin, Vice Director of Mei Lanfang Peking Opera Troupe, said, "Our performances will help people remember the history of the age-old art form of Peking Opera, and this theater is the perfect place to do so."

From its days as a Ming Dynasty temple, to an assembly hall, to a tea house, and now an auditorium dedicated to Peking Opera, the Zhengyici Theater has become a living fossil, and one of Beijing's finest monuments.

The drumbeats and cadential arias of Peking Opera continue to resound throughout the halls of the venue, passing the refined tradition of the genre on to the next generation.


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