Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pingyao Tea House Theater (3): Three scenes of Shanxi Opera

Shanxi Opera (晋剧) Scenes performance: Changing Masks

Following my series of "Pingyao Tea House Theater" (1), this last part presents three scenes performed during the same spectacle for tourists I have been talking in part 1: one acrobatic scene, one comic scene and one quick-changing masks scene.

Even the spectacle that night were not only of Shanxi Opera it was an unique opportunity to see a company specialized on it playing some characteristic scenes of that kind of Chinese theatre. Shanxi Opera performances are not as easy to find than Peking Opera performances; there are no much companies and their seasons are rare, usually they give some isolated performances in very special occasions.

The acrobatic scene did not show to me anything special, being very similar to other kind of Chinese operas I have seen before, I only corroborated my appreciation of those amazing actors-acrobats always working to perfection (even in spectacles like this).

The Comic scene was an interesting surprise; it was the first time I heard singing like that, not only comically but with a very special use of the rhythm. This Shanxi Opera song showed to me a very fresh way to sing in traditional Chinese theatre, codification was still there but the difference with Peking Opera (the opera I have seen the most) seemed huge.

I couldn't miss a quick-changing Mask scene; people from all over the world come to the South of China to see these actors doing that amazing switch of masks. It was a pity they did not do that inside a real opera scene, instead of it they performed those changes like an act of Magic. Not bad but it seemed to me more Las Vegas-kind spectacle than a Shanxi Opera one.

(1) "Pingyao Tea House Theater (1): Shanxi Opera Scenes Murals.", and
"Pingyao Tea House Theater (2): Seeing today Chinese spectators as an anthropological experience?"

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