DC Beauty of Beijing Opera: Beijing Opera Performance


The GW Confucius Institute presented a Beijing Opera performance by DC Beauty of Beijing Opera (DCBBO) as part of the Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration. This was a unique opportunity to see performances by Master Chushan Zhu, and Master Xueling Qin, winner of the Plum Flower Award! Before performing six featured scenes from classic operas, DCBBO founder and president, Louisa Huang introduced the audience to Beijing Opera's history, and performance styles. The artists then showcased the four major performance skills, which are singing, recitation, dance acting, and martial arts.

Beijing Opera was a unique window for the audience to appreciate traditional Chinese culture and values. Due its cultural significance and long history, UNESCO recognized Beijing Opera as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.


Introduction of Beijing Opera’s History

Performance Featuring: 


China Daily Article

Hanban Article

Classics 1: Drunken Beauty (贵妃醉酒)

(Performers: Cynthia Yung, Anton Zhuang, Jane Chen, Winny Chen)

The Drunken Beauty is one of the most famous masterpieces of Mei Lanfang, the founder of the Mei Style of Beijing Opera performance. The story is about Lady Yang Yuhuan, a rare beauty and the Emperor’s favorite concubine. Neglected one day by the Emperor despite that they had an appointment at the Flower Pavilion, the Beauty drank a lot by herself in an attempt to ignore the doomed future that she eventually had to face. This act is about Yang on her joyful way to see the emperor.

Classics 2: Battle at the Hu Village (扈家庄)

(Performer: Shiying Zhang)

The martial play is adapted from the legendary novel "Men All over the Sea Are Brothers". It involves more actions than singing. The heroine Hu Sanniang excelled in martial arts and used a halberd as her weapon. When she learned that some brigands were coming to attack her home village, she was furious. In her point of view, they were but cowards. In this demo the fully armed warrior expressed her thoughts prior to the battle through choreography. The skillful combat and martial arts are highlights of the full show.

Classics 3: The Monkey King (美猴王 - 闹天宫)

(Performers: Chushan Zhu, Sizu Li)

The Monkey King is perhaps the only animal that appears on the Beijing Opera stage as a lead character. The origins of the monkey king are obscure but the figure gained widespread recognition in the character of Sun Wukong in the epic Chinese novel, Journey to the West (1590s). The monkey king possesses supernatural powers and a great sense of humor. While the Beijing Opera version of the monkey king is not what any Westerner would think of as opera, it is a highly stylized form, lacking scenery and with combat scenes that are closer to dance than to stunt work. The level of acrobatic skill, however, is incredibly high and the action is full of physical comedy. In this act, the plot itself is simple: the Monkey King disturbs a banquet in the celestial palace because he was annoyed being looked down upon by the supreme emperor.

Classics 4: Mu Guiying Takes Command (穆桂英挂帅 - 捧印)

(Performer:Sarah Xie)

The act is famous for the skillful dance acting and high pitch melodic passages of the Mei Lanfang Performing style of Beijing Opera. Lady Mu Guiying was a legendary general of Family Yang in the Song Dynasty. Initially she was reluctant to accept the emperor’s assignment to act as commandant of the national troop. However, Mu put aside her resentment against the emperor and overcame self-doubt about her preparedness, and led the troops to defend her country and people.

Classics 5: Farewell, My Lady (霸王别姬)

(Performers:Mei Wang, Riva Zhang)

This act is one of the most famous classics of the Mei Lanfang performing style of Beijing Opera. The plot: Xiang Yu the King of Xi Chu was trapped at Gaixia by his opponent Han’s troops. Xiang’s wife Yu Ji sang and danced with her sword in order to cheer up the King. Nonetheless, it was written that they were to lose the war. Lady Yu Ji committed suicide with the sword in an attempt to free the King from worrying about her. The sword dance is the highlight of this act, which depicts the complex emotion of Lady Yu Ji who dances with smile on her face and tears in her heart.

Classics 6: Jade Bracelet (拾玉镯)

(Performer: Xueling Qin)

Among the over 1,400 repertory of Beijing Opera, Jade Bracelet is one of the best known classics that features in hua dan, playful young-female role performing typology and its highly symbolic and suggestive dance-acting skills. The play is about a young girl who was doing needle work and taking care of chickens in her front yard. Incidentally she was attracted to a young man passing-by who dropped a jade bracelet at her feet on purpose indicating his admiration. The girl was in so much hesitation… Today’s show is act 1 of the full play.

Sponsored By:

The GW Confucius Institute

In Partnership with the DC Beauty of Beijing Opera