China National Peking Opera was on show in London. This is the third time the historical performance has been in England’s capital since 2005 and as our Wang Wan tells us, the audience thoroughly enjoyed their Chinese experience.
The General and the Prime Minister” “The Legend of the White Snake” — two classic plays that have been regularly performed by the Peking Opera since the 1950s. But this time, the London performance has been tailored to suit a British audience. Even with a British twist, the opera will retain an original style of Chinese artistic singing, speaking, acting and acrobatic fighting.
A historical story from over two thousand years ago. A traditional Chinese opera with a history of more than 200 years. The Peking opera, the General and the Prime Minister takes the Western audience back through a time machine to experience the history and performing arts of China.
Yu Kuizhi and Yang Chi, roles of the bearded man and the one with the painted face, starring Lin Xiangru and Lianpo. They are the highest ranking civil servant and military officer in the Kingdom of Zhao, defending their national interests both in the imperial court and the battlefield.
The audience not only enjoyed the wisdom and humor on stage, but looked beyond the battle to appreciate the classical aesthetics of China.
“It’s the bearded gentleman, that was the adviser, becomes a prime minister. And he’s very funny, because he always has the right answer, but he expresses himself very humorously. And he is also thinking ahead very much. He is very strategic. He thinks on his feet. He explains what he is thinking about. And you can see also he has this wonderful head, so when he is thinking, the two wings of his hat are shaking all the time. I think it’s very funny and very impressive,” said Raymond D. Keene, audience member.
“I really like the battle scenes. I think it was extraordinary. The discipline, it needs gesture, and the movement, it was absolutely amazing. And also, the costume, I think it’s… I love it, even each costumes is like a separate painting in itself, so it’s very beautiful,” said Ms. Kormanova, audience member.
Through a dramatic relationship between the two characters, this opera conveys the traditions of Chinese political philosophy, as well as the harmonious thinking within 11 scenes. And, with great success, the performance was met with a standing ovation from the audience.
As the prime minister on stage, Yu has his own understanding of this ancient story.
“I think the General and the Prime Minister is quite a meaningful play. Not only in ancient times, but in modern society as it emphasizes peace and harmony as well. We could be cultural ambassadors and peace ambassadors performing for the Western audience,” said Yu Kuizhi, Peking Opera artist.
Peace and love, both are the eternal themes of the arts. The Peking Opera coming back to London, also features the folklore of a love story that combined all the artistic elements of its art format.
“It’s all about complex martial arts performances, heavy performances. For the part called Broken Bridge, a song of love and hatred, expressed all the feelings between Bai Nangzi and Xu Xian,” said Li Shengsu, Peking Opera artist.
Each year, artists from the China National Peking Opera present more than 100 performances all over the world. And now, the UK audience are lucky to enjoy this top performance for the next two years, while also gaining a better understanding of both Chinese culture, and art.