Beijing Opera, also written as Peking opera, is a purely Chinese opera form which dates back to the year 1790. That year four local opera troupes of Anhui Province came to Beijing on a performance tour on the order of the imperial court. The tour was a hit and the troupes stayed. The artists absorbed the tunes of the Hubei local opera and drew on the best of Kun Qu, Qin Qiang and Bang Zi and other local operas.
Facial Makeups Represent Different Characters
For the painted role, the different colors of the faces represent different characters and personality. Yellow and white represent cunning, red stands for uprightness and loyalty, black means valor and wisdom, blue and green indicate the vigorous and enterprising character of rebellious heroes and gold and silver represent mystic or super-natural power.
"Sheng, dan, jing, chou," for instance, are just the terms for four different types of roles. "sheng" is the positive male role, "dan" is the positive female role, "jing" is a supporting male role with striking character and "chou" is the clown. Every type has its telltale facial makeup and decoration.
But actually, "piao you" means Peking opera fans, "piao fang" means the place where fans meet to amuse themselves and "xia hai" means turning professional. When you come across with a small group of Peking opera fans singing in a street corner, that corner can be considered a "street piao fang." There is no lacking of social celebrities among Peking opera fans. Emperor Guang Xu of Qing Dynasty, for example, was not only a good amateur Peking opera singer, but was also a good drummer in the Peking opera orchestra (the drummer plays the role of the director of the orchestra). The Empress Dowager was an avid Peking opera fan, too. The huge three-storey theater in the Summer Palace is a proof of her love for Peking opera.