Traditional Chinese Opera

Traditional Chinese opera has a history of more than 800 years. It is an art form which integrates singing, music, dialogue, acting and acrobatics. There are more than 300 different operatic forms in China. Among the local operatic forms staged nationwide are Beijing Opera, Pingju Opera, Shaoxing Opera and Henan Opera. The best-known is Beijing Opera, which has a history of more than 200 years. It originated in Beijing, then capital of Qing Dynasty.

There are different schools, styles and forms of singing in Beijing (Peking) Opera. In acting and acrobatic fighting, different roles follow different patterns, and their movements and gestures are stylized, suggestive and symbolic. For instance, the actions of opening a door, going up the stairs , rowing a boat or climbing a bill, are done purely through the dance-like movements of the actors with the help of props. String and percussion instruments also provide a distinct characteristic of Beijing Opera.

Modern Chinese drama has developed under the influence of foreign dramatic literature and conventions . In the 1910's, drama troupes were formed in the country. The most popular plays staged in the 1930's and 1940's are Thunderstorm, Sunrise, Qu Yuan and Twin Flowers.