Beijing Opera which can dates back to the 15th century AD. It developed from the combination of Hui, Kun, Yiyang, Hanjiu and Luantan Operas, that occurred naturally due to the importance of Beijing as the capital and home of the Emperor and his court. Beijing opera is mainly based on historical events and fairy tales. The stories can date to ancient times or can be inspired by recent modern history. Beijing opera performances use a very special form of pronunciation, associated with the Imperial court that is both graceful and melodic. Performers are trained extensively to master this difficult singing art before they begin to train in the
interpretation of the actual characters.Beijing opera is mainly accompanied by an orchestra and separate percussion band. The orchestra frequently plays during peaceful scenes while the later often accompany scenes of war and fighting. Commonly used percussion instruments include castanets, drums, bells and cymbals. Beijing opera has a history spanning several centuries, and although the primary melododies can be traced to Xipi in Anhui Province and Erhuang in Hubei Province it has a unique flavour all its
own owing to the techniques from many other local operas that were incorporated over time. It is generally accepted that Beijing opera gradually came into being after 1790 when four famous Anhui opera troupes came to Beijing. In recent years, Beijing opera has attempted numerous reforms in response to sagging audience numbers. These reforms, which include improving performance quality, adapting new performance elements, and performing new and original plays, have met with mixed success. Some Western works have been adopted as new plays, but a lack of funding and an adverse political climate have left Beijing opera's fate uncertain as the form enters the 21st century.
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