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December 19, 2010

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Peak Peking performance

PEKING opera incorporates singing, reciting, acting and martial arts. Although widely practised throughout China, its performance centers on Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. The songs and recitals use primarily Beijing dialect, and its librettos are composed according to a strict set of rules.

Peking opera tells stories of history, politics, society and daily life and aspire to inform as they entertain. The music of Peking opera plays a key role in setting the pace of the show, creating a particular atmosphere, shaping the characters and guiding the progress of the stories.

"Civilian plays" emphasize string and wind instruments such as the thin, high-pitched jinghu and the dizi, while "military plays" feature percussion instruments such as the bangu or daluo. Performance is characterized by a formulaic and symbolic style with actors and actresses following established choreography.

Traditionally, stage settings and props are kept to a minimum. Costumes are flamboyant and the exaggerated facial make-up uses concise symbols, colors and patterns to portray characters' personalities and social identities.

Peking opera is transmitted largely by master-student training using oral instruction, observation and imitation. It is regarded as an expression of the aesthetic ideal of opera in traditional Chinese society and remains a widely recognized element of the country's cultural heritage.

Now, with the help of the state and community, and its addition this year to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, safeguarding measures have been developed.


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