First-Class Performances and Cross-Cultural Experiences
Through Collaboration Between Canada, Italy and China

About the Beijing Opera

The Beijing Opera is a world renowned representation of Chinese civilization and, of more than 300 local operas in China, is known as the best of Chinese classical opera. From its beginnings in the court of the Qing dynasty, the Beijing opera developed and became recognized in the mid 19th century as one of the cultural treasures of China.  In November 2010, it was designated by UNESCO as a representative of human oral and intangible cultural heritage.
CIML brought the Mei Lanfang Beijing Opera to BC during the 2017-2018 season for six outstanding performances in Vancouver, Surrey, Coquitlam and Victoria.  



Mei Lanfang Beijing Opera Troupe


Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della Fondazione Roma


Astro from South Korea

Artistic Creation

Artistic Creation

The reason why the Beijing Opera has received such renown in China and around the world is due mainly to its unique artistic creation and vivid artistic expression. In general, the three main features are:
First of all, the character’s behavior is reduced to plot.  In training, Beijing Opera actors are divided into male and female characters suitable for the performance, the physiological stage, and specific emotional and personality characteristics.    In Beijing opera, it is called life, dan, net, and ugly.
• Life is a male role, divided into older, younger and youngest students, and according to occupation.
• Dan, female characters, are divided into young, middle and old age according to skill in martial arts, personality and comedy.
• Net are the characters whose personalities are mostly rough, bold, and violent.
• Ugly characters are comical and vulgar.
Facial Expressions-01
Facial Expressions-02

Facial Expressions

Facial expressions and costuming vividly portray the characters whose performance helps the audience follow the emotion and flow of the story line.  This is the principle of artistic expression in the Beijing opera.  The second characteristic of Beijing Opera is the stylization of the symbolic artistic language that is more beautiful, more typical and more vivid than life.  Although Beijing Opera uses stylization, the performance, personalities, and characters all contribute to the program.  The stylized symbols of Beijing Opera are also displayed by the unique and beautiful faces.  The pattern, composition and color of the faces portray character; for example, red is for loyalty, yellow for bravery, blue for rudeness/vulgarity, green for irascibility, black for unselfishness, white for treachery, and clear for sacred. 

The third outstanding feature is freehand brushwork.  Freehand brushwork is aesthetic Chinese painting, derived from the aesthetic standards of ancient Chinese painting.  Its purpose is not to express content or performance, but to make the stage more beautiful and creative for the performance of the actors.

The experience of the Beijing Opera is profound, not only in artistic performance but also in appreciation for the Chinese people and heritage, as well as an opportunity for the development of cultural and international friendship.