Modern Day Chinese Opera
Chinese Opera of modern days has begun experimenting with Western plays. After 1919, a number of western plays were staged in China, and Chinese artists unified this form with their plays. Symphony Orchestra also accompanies the opera now, adding to it the spice of modernisation. New stories have also been expressed by the Opera artists.
Various Styles of Chinese Opera
Different factors have their influence on Opera and it is natural that the style varies with the region. Landscape, culture, environment, both natural and political, play part in defining the style of Opera. The Cantonese style opera highly differs from those of Chiu Chow. Chinese operas are played in more than 300 forms now, and the most famous of these is Beijing Chinese opera.
The standard opera is based on folklore, legends, and historical incidents from the past. Opera emerged in the reign of the Song Dynasty (960-1279). During the 18th Century, in the imperial court in Beijing, festivals and state occasions witnessed Chinese Opera. 'Pear Garden', a group which performed for the emperor, was the first known opera troupe in China. Gradually, the Opera gained popularity among common people.
Artists & Instruments
Artists of consummate skills are behind elaborate operas. The artists acquire the required skills after years of comprehensive training. The performing artists are supported by conventional Chinese orchestra. String, wind and percussion, all three types of musical instruments support the artists. Of late, western musical instruments have also been introduced to Chinese opera.
Elaborate costumes are worn by opera performers. Very often, heavy painted masks are used. Otherwise also, excessive makeup is used. Cumbersome head-dresses are also a feature of the operas. More detailed head-dress hints on the importance of the character in the opera. The costumes of opera artists are exquisitely embroidered.