Peking Opera: Inheritance or popularization?
2018-07-26 10:41:00

When mentioning the Peking Opera, a few key words come to mind for most Chinese: national quintessence, traditional culture, dazzling costumes and makeup. Some may even be able to hum a few lines or talk about their favorite artists, but for most people, it remains a classic art form that stays distant from everyday life.

However, only a century ago, the Peking Opera was no less popular than today’s pop music, while the artists were welcomed and loved by a large amount of fans who were willing to spend a fortune for a ticket to their performances.

Mei Lanfang, one of the greatest Peking Opera artists, took the traditional Chinese art abroad for the first time in the early 20th century, amazing many foreigners with his beautiful voice, subtle performances and elegant gestures.

“The Drunken Concubine” /VCG Photo

Despite its great charm, the opera gradually declined and retreated from the daily lives of most Chinese for many years. However, the artists never stopped trying to return it to its former glory.

In 2010, the art form was added to the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list, injecting new impetus into the ancient art. Today, many Chinese artists are still working hard in their own way to honor it.

From origin to heyday: the rise of a new genre

The origin of the Peking Opera could be traced back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), when the four great Anhui troupes brought their local Anhui opera, also known as Huiju, to Beijing for celebrations of Emperor Qianlong’s birthday.

Source: CGTN Editor: Hiram