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Opera Jingju

Opera Jingju

Vladimir Lukashev

Expert on China and South-East Asia

Vladimir Lukashev, an expert on China and Southeast Asia:

- I remember one conversation that took place in our representative office in one of the cities of Greater China. I just arrived and talked with one of the employees, who, by the way, was very conscientious and who did a lot to support the local Russian community. This guy, when he found out that I was going to attend the performance of the Peking Opera, was surprised and said: “I don't understand anything there. You just never saw it all. " I didn’t tell him that the first time I got to the Peking Opera was twenty years ago in Taipei. There, it is true, it is called Taiwanese opera, but the meaning is the same. The difference is in the nuances. However, in the words of this man there was still truth. Indeed, it is difficult with the Russian mentality, no - not to understand, to feel the charm of this kind of art. In order to become a true connoisseur of Peking opera, as well as Chinese tea, you need to become at least a little Chinese. Smell the scent of five thousand years of Chinese history, read one of the four classic Chinese novels, and develop a long-term friendship with at least one Chinese.

Peking Opera is a synthetic art form. Officially, Peking Opera appeared two hundred years ago, but its constituent elements are at least a thousand years old. The characters that appear on the stage are easily recognizable. Their types and quantity are strictly regulated. As well as their methods of influencing the public. There are four such methods: singing, recitation, pantomime and martial art. Accordingly, each character is strong in one of these four "specializations". And within these methods, too, everything is clearly regulated. Gestures, recitation styles, singing and weapon handling. Even "eye expression" is regulated. All this constantly reminds you that you are in China, where for five thousand years you have been able to sort everything out and write instructions for every life situation. This was especially pronounced in Beijing, the capital of the Middle Empire, where the Peking opera was formed.

Speaking about the Beijing opera, we can not fail to mention Confucianism, which strictly regulates the behavior of a person in society and in the family. Confucianism is not a religion in the full sense of the word, but I would say that Confucianism is more than religion. This is the policy and the system of governance of the country, and the mechanism that regulates social and economic processes. This is the basis and the basis of the way of life of the Chinese, and indeed of the whole state. In other words, Confucianism is the basis of the Chinese mentality. And all this also contributed to the emergence of strict regulations of the Beijing opera. In short, the Beijing Opera is a national Chinese art.

It is interesting that in their productions the Chinese use a minimum of scenery. They are limited mainly to the table and two chairs. But their location on the stage, the color and the drawing on them are important. If on the upholstery of a chair a golden dragon is a palace, if there are bright lurid drawings there, it is a tavern. And again the conventions and regulations. For example, a wand with tassels in the actor’s hand indicates that the actor rides a horse, and the color of these brushes indicates its color. Flags behind the commander - this is his army. Each flag is ten thousand warriors. Peking Opera resembles the Great Wall of China. Great blocks are created from standard blocks.

One of my acquaintances joked, saying that the performances of the Peking opera reminded him of an old joke about friends who, during a long conversation, often told old jokes to each other that in the end they just gave each joke their number. Well, say, said: "Number twenty-three." Everyone remembered the anecdote and laughed. Indeed, it seems. Especially if you remember the end of this anecdote. The newcomer, who got into this company, called the figure at random. As a result, he was expelled, explaining: "So as not to tell unprintable anecdotes in the ladies."

Separately, I must say about the plots of the Peking opera. They are mainly based on the history of China. Significant and minor events are transformed into plots. And to real events, they can already have an indirect relationship. The names of the performances are amusing: "Favorite Yan drank a little more", "Farewell to Xiang Yu with his favorite Yu Ji". In general, the personal life of the emperors is a frequent plot of the performance, however, like the military plots: "Taking the Weiushan Mountain", "Attack on the White Tiger Regiment", "Red Women's Battalion", "Fighting in the Plain".

It is interesting that during the "Cultural Revolution" the persecution of the Peking opera was limited. Although this kind of art got from the hungwebins. Many plays were banned for execution, only ten revolutionary operas were allowed, praising communist reality.

It must be said that the difficulty of the Chinese theater's perception of the European is also due to the fact that the European theater and the Beijing opera developed independently and in different directions. In the modern world, where everything is interconnected, the interpenetration of two cultures and two theaters is inevitable. The most amusing manifestation of this is comics on the theme of the Peking opera. Yes, there is such a phenomenon in the life of the Chinese. As well as another, uniting the Chinese and European mentality. The Peking Opera has fans. Just like in European football. Maybe less warlike, but equally noisy. When you hear their screams "Hao!", We recall our football matches. All their free time they devote to opera. They play in the performances, which are usually put in the mornings in the parks of Chinese cities. There you can often see a fan who sings at the top of his voice, ignoring the people around him.

For a snack, I want to briefly summarize the plot of the performance of the Beijing opera The Legend of Mu Quife, a warrior with a tender heart, brought by the Taiwanese theater Kuo Kuang to Moscow in 2003. Here he is:

In the remote fortress city lives a desperate warrior Mu Kvey-Ing, who leads an army of well-trained bandits. At this time, the Song Dynasty waged war against the northern barbarians. The son of the Sung Commander, by his own foolishness and with some help from the generals intriguing against him, instead of dealing with the barbarians, goes to storm the fortress, led by Mu Kvey-Ing. Naturally, the battle loses and is captured. Outraged by the son’s evil deed, the father stormed the city of Mu Kvey-Ing to execute the over-age dunce for disobedience. But it was not there. Balbess is already married to a warrior, to contact with which is more expensive. What the Commander-in-Chief was immediately convinced of when he met Mu Kvey-Ing on the battlefield. The defeated Commander-in-Chief can only reconcile with the newly baked daughter-in-law, however, having received her army as a bonus. Well, then, the traditional:

Thunder of victory,

Have fun, brave Chinese!

The northern barbarians are defeated and run to their lair, the Commander-in-Chief in favor, universal rejoicing.

As a final, I will say that in fact the Peking Opera is not an opera. It was so called Europeans, not finding more appropriate term. This is a unique synthetic art, which has no analogues in the west. And it is better to call this art simply: Jingju.

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