Monday, July 20, 2009

北京京剧 - 赤壁 Peking Opera - Red Cliff

Some said if you ever have a chance to visit Beijing, try to watch one or two Peking Opera. Well I almost forgot about this. Luckily SH bought this show ticket, and then I just follow :D We bought two tickets online, RMB 200 each, discounted to RMB 150 each.

We reached National Center of Performing Arts around 6pm, although the show starts on 7.30pm. There were some exhibition inside which we would like to go through.

At the building entrance, there were security guards using bar code scanner to scan ticket. Then we had to put our camera/food/drinks at the locker service counter. After that, we need to go through the scanning, like in airport. The security checking is really tight.

There were two exhibition at that time. Click on respective language title for URL.
1) 《光色音韵——袁运甫20世纪60—70年代的绘画艺术》 20th Century Modern Painting Exhibition focusing on Yuan,YuanFu.
I do not really understand paintings, but in my opinion, his painting is unique in such a way that the color he used is so light, but yet it is still so clear after almost half century. He can draw a lot of things, portrait, industrial scenery, scenic view, and a lot more. Some paintings are available from the mandarin URL.

2) “今夜无人入睡”—国家大剧院歌剧节主题艺术展 NESSUN DORMA ---- Opera Art Exhibition
A very good exhibition for opera lovers :) Well, I am not familiar with it but nice to see some old poster/sketch/costume on opera e.g. Turandot and Traviata.

To fill up the stomach quickly, we went for sandwiches for dinner. As expected, not cheap but luckily it is fresh :)

Around 10 minutes before the show start, there were bell sound to remind audience. This is a 3 floor opera hall. The hall is design well that although we are at 3rd floor but every row here can see the stage and also the orchestra in front of the stage. There were a mix of young and old audience. The aunty sit next to me sometimes sing very softly with the opera actor. It started on time, this is another thumb up for the system here, always on time :)

If you do not mandarin opera, don't worry, both English and Mandarin subtitles were provided! There were quite a few westerner audience, and I am sure they can enjoy the performance as well :) Of course there are advantages if you can read Mandarin. The subtitle not only display the actual sentence, but also describe the singing type 唱板, for example 慢板,散板,二黄散板,四黄散板。

If you watched the movie Red Cliff 1 and Red Cliff 2 before, it will be even easier for you to understand the story :) The details is a little bit different but the outline is almost the same. In brief, here are the stories:

Act 1铜雀兴兵 Fire the war

Cao cao forced the Emperor to fire the war. Cao cao is not in the picture. The backdrop looks exactly the same, will the emperor on second floor, doors and 2 big pillar.

Act 2 舌战群儒 Sun Quan's government debating on war

Liu Bei visited Sun Quan to propose for union. The governors debating if to war or white flag. Some scene is funny and will make you laugh :D

Act 3 结盟定计 Deciding to war and planning

Zhou Yu and Xiao Qiao in the scene. After Sun Quan decided for war, Liu Bei and Zhou Yu both has the same idea to use fire in war.

Act 4 泛舟借箭 Borrow arrows

Liu Bei use some trick to get a lot of arrows from Cao Cao's troop. The boat is amazing isn't it. In fact, the stage is designed in such a way that there are 6 horizontal 'belts' on it, so in the show, the boat sailed in from left to right or right to left. That's not it, the belt also can go up and down, which can lift up things or sink it. This is a modernize opera show with latest technology. I like it :D

Before the arrow scene, I tried to imagine how are they going to show Cao Cao's troop archered the arrow to Liu Bei's boat. Look at picture below, those arrow are static and the slow it down from the ceiling, with the arrow as backdrop, the scene is really amazing and artistic, a portion of it is shown at the picture but you may imagine they 'hang' the arrow accross the whole stage in arch shape.

Act 5 备战借风 Borrow east wind

Pic above show the troop is practicing for the war. Then Liu Bei borrow the wind for fire war.

Act 6 火烧赤壁 The war

The war. In this act, more traditional opera action were perform e.g. tumbling/handspring, opera typical spear rotation. It is a mix of tradition art movement with modern technology scene setup to make the performance interesting. At the end of the show, some parts of the ship above will 'break' a little bit to show it is burnt and broken (Like that of Universal Studio's Underwater live performance's ship).

In between the act, they took very short time to setup the backdrop.

After the show ended, we quickly go to locker to get back our camera and take some shot. Unfortunately I didn't manage to take a lot of shots, as the security guard is really tight that they politely and systematically chase visitor out. I will share those picture in another blog post. This post is long enough to read :D

Some information can be found from

Well, I was wondering if Malaysia performing center at KLCC is able to handle similar show. Anyway, if there will be chance to visit the KLCC symphonic hall once in the future :)


Aik-Shuen said...

Ooooh! I saw about it on Astro... great that you could catch it :D

mk said...

I felt lucky to have a chance to watch it too :D Thanks to the travel mate to look for this show :D

**Shih Nyien** said...

Impressive le! I hope I have a change to watch too :)

mk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mk said...

SN, unfortunately there was no similar show when you were here, and the Jane Eyre ticket was too expensive :)