Amazing Sichuan Opera
2014-04-06 BNC2014 Entertainment Chengdu 1085
I lived in Chengdu for 1 year, my friends always invited me to go to the Shunxing Ancient Tea-house, we drank tea, had some desserts and enjoyed entertainment, Sichuan opera stroke me and I would never forget in my whole life.
Sichuan opera was an ancient tradition and one of the local operas, survived for many years and was very popular in Chengdu and other cities. It was well-known for its solo singing, skillful acting, rich percussion and funny comedians. With bright and colorful costumes and complicated skills, it was really a surprise for those who enjoyed the performance for the first time. The audiences were attracted by its big stunts such as: spitting fire, changing faces, rolling light and the high pitched singing.
Sichuan opera sprouted about Qing Dynasty. This opera was a harmonious combination with four different tunes, sometimes, it displayed screechy tunes. Kunqiang sounded exquisite melody and vertical bamboo flute was the major instrument, which produced gentle, exceedingly fluent and clear sounds. Huqin voice was originated from Xipi and Erhuang tunes, two-stringed erhu and three-stringed sanxian were the major instruments, applying a drumbeat to set lively tempo. Tanxi also was known for Chuanbangzi and was accompanied by Gaibanhu, a bowed stringed with wooden sound-board. Gaoqiang displayed a high pitched singing style, sounded fantastic. The solo singing with clappers’ accompaniment, and orchestra made repeat chorus of the voice.
The characters of Sichuan opera included sheng, dan, jing, and chou. Sheng was played by male, and it could be divided into several types, zhengsheng, xiaosheng, and wusheng. Zhengsheng was played by middle-age or old man with beard. Wusheng was a military general role. Dan was played by female, could be divided: laodan, qingyi, huadan and wudan. Laodan was played by old woman. Qingyi could be acted by young or middle age woman. Huadan was played by a girl or young lady, who wore pants and jacket, spoke much and sang little. Wudan was acted by a woman with martial skills. Jing was also known as Hualian, a man who with multi-colored painted face. Chou was a comic character and made a lot of fun for his special make-up, could be divided into wenchou, wuchou and danchou.
The changing face was the most important part I would love to appreciate, and it was the big event in Sichuan opera. The Red Face, the Black Face, the White Face, the Multi-Colored Face. The colorful and patterned painted faces were rich in different symbolic meanings. They quickly changed without pause and reapplied makeup. It was said that only few masters with consummate skills could change faces well.
I enjoyed many repertoires of Sichuan opera, the most impressive two soap operas were Madam Big Feet and Du Shiliang. The former one, it’s a story about a lofty lady and her two sons. Du Shiniang described a prostitute who was doomed with her frustrated fate and suicide by throwing herself into the river with a box of jewelry. Sichuan opera added fresh illusion energy to this relaxing city.