Beijing Opera (or Peking Opera) has existed for over 200 years. It is widely regarded as the highest expression of the Chinese culture. It is known as one of the three main theatrical systems in the world. Artistically, Beijing Opera is perhaps the most refined form of opera in the world. It has deeply influenced the hearts of the Chinese people. Although it is called Beijing Opera, its origins are not in Beijing but in the Chinese provinces of Anhui and Hubei. Beijing Opera got its two main melodies, Xi_Pi and Er_Huang, from Anhui and Hubei operas. It then absorbed music and arias from other operas and musical arts in China.
It is regarded that Beijing Opera was born when the Four Great Anhui Troupes came to Beijing in 1790. Beijing Opera was originally staged for the royal family and came into the public later. In 1828, some famous Hubei Troupe players came to Beijing.
Hubei and Anhui troupes often jointly performed in the stage. The combination gradually formed the mainstream of Beijing Opera's melodies. One of the rare forms of entertainment, it was favored by people from all walks of the society, from the high-ranking government officials to the lower levels of society. There are thousands of pieces covering the entire history and literature of China, even including revised stories from the west.
There are as many kinds of Chinese Opera as there are dialects. It has been estimated that there are thousands branches of Chinese Opera. Most of them are local, dominating a region within a province and its surrounding area. However, Beijing Opera is the national standard, and has a higher reputation than any of the other branches of Chinese Opera. Almost every province of China has more than one Beijing Opera troupe. Beijing and Tianjin...