China’s iconic Beijing Opera is back in the UK for the fifth consecutive year to stage a Peking Opera Gala show at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London on Thursday.
A 63 artist delegation led by household names, Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu responded to the invitation from Sinolink Productions.
Embodying one of the finest traditions of Chinese arts, Peking Opera is a mix of musical masterpiece, martial arts, mimes and painted faces.
However, the Peking Opera is not limited to just the wonderful skills and beauty of the performance. It is also viewed as an ideal vehicle for cultural exchange between China and the world, according to Yu Kuizhi, Master of Peking opera performing in the show.
“Our president Xi Jinping suggested we need to tell the world about China, let the world understand Chinese culture. I think the Peking Opera is an ideal vehicle to do that, to let the world see China’s ancient culture, because it’s uplifting and reflects all the virtues of China,” said Yu KuiZhi.
Masters of the Peking Opera usually need study for decades to perfect their skills before being allowed near a stage. Many moves and sounds honed to a format dating back centuries. As a Chinese saying goes,”Three minute’s success comes from 10 years’ practice”. Sharing these exquisite skills with the world, genuine pride can be seen in the performers.
“You have to understand a little bit about how words are enunciated, how words unfold or unfurl itself with the note so that you are singing the word as it becomes the note and the note becomes an extension of the word,” said Kathy Hall from London Chinese Opera Studio.
Despite most of the audience not being fluent in the language being spoken in the opera, they were awestruck with a feast of art form that included music, mime, acrobatics, exquisite costumes and painted faces in the Warrior Women of Yang show, a story set in the early days of the Chinese Silk Road a thousand years ago.It is a neat historical parallel as China continues its plans for a 21st century Silk Road, the Belt & Road Initiative.
“To tell you the truth, I find it very colourful and also a bit funny with the sounds they make and things,” said a spectator.
“I think that was fantastic. I think that’s really good. The costumes are absolutely stunning,” said another spectator.
During their six day stay in Britain, the Peking Opera artists will also attend several workshops in local schools and universities, introducing details of this intriguing art form to more people.