2007-3-6 18:44:00 From:

Chinese traditional opera, Greek drama and Indian Sanskrit opera are considered as the world's three ancient operas. China alone boasts more than 300 kinds of local opera, mainly using singing and dancing to express the plot. At present, hundreds of plays are staged every year, adding variety to people's cultural life. The Plum Blossom Award set up in 1983 is China's highest prize for opera performers of young and middle age. To date, the prestigious award has gone to 460 actors and actresses of 47 types of opera, hailing from 29 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Peking Opera

Peking Opera (evolved from kunqu Opera, a much older type of drama) is the most popular and influential opera form. It took shape in early 19th century Beijing, and combines singing, music, chanting, dancing and martial arts. Over the last 200 years, the Peking Opera has developed a repertoire of more than 1,000 plays, as well as sets of musical modes and stylized performance movements. Following in the footsteps of such stars as Mei Lanfang, Cheng Yanqiu, Ma Lianliang, Zhou Xinfang and Du Jinfang, the emergence of new artistes has continued to breathe new life into Peking Opera.

In the past few years, the bold experiment by the Peking Opera Theater of China of combining Western symphony with Peking Opera, won high praise from fellow-professionals. Another important achievement was the video recording of 355 classic operas, with sound records sung by 47 late masters of Peking Opera between the 1940s and the 1960s collected and paired against performances of today's outstanding young and middle-aged artists, in order to preserve and transmit their art down the ages.

Local Operas

Whilst preserving their fine traditions, local operas have made continuous reforms and innovations. Popular local operas include yueju (from Shaoxing in Zhejiang), huangmeixi (Anhui), chuanju (Sichuan), yuju (Henan) and yueju (Guangdong). Bold, unconstrained and unique, Tibetan opera is imbued with religious and Tibetan ethnic flavor.


Modern drama was introduced from abroad in the early 20th century, realistic and expressionistic plays being staged for the first time in the 1920s. Chinese drama came of age in the 1930s, a period in which the great dramatist Cao Yu wrote three plays ÐThunderstorm, Sunrise and The Wilderness Ð whose depth of meaning and maturity of style made them classics of Chinese theater. Today these plays are still staged and have been adapted into movies and TV dramas many times.

The works of the Beijing People's Art Theater, founded in 1952, represent the high point of Chinese theater. Teahouse and Dragon Beard Ditch have become famous both at home and abroad. Over the past two decades, the theater has staged some 80 new dramas and 12 repertory plays, many of which have become evergreen dramas booked out for every performance.

Avant-garde drama has won quite a large following amongst young people. This genre, often performed in small venues and using modern expressive techniques, mainly focuses on themes of modern life. Director Meng Jinghui is the leading exponent of such drama.


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