"Peking Opera"


Author: Mo Liyun

Language of the book: English 

First Published: 2011

Note: I read "Peking Opera" by Mo Liyun in 2017 and wrote a review in "Goodreads" so with some amendments I decided to post it here.

I have started to read this book with the idea to get insight of the opera art in China. Before I read this book, I hadn't known anything about opera in China. Especially about Peking Opera. My view of it was that it will be quite similar to the European Opera, that I am used to hear and watch. However, when I opened the book for the first time photos of people frightened me as they looked with a very strange and bright make-up. It was too much for me as make-up resembled villainous characters. I closed the book and decided to return later to it.

Later, after I managed to read it I realised that all my expectations and assumptions vanished completely. The author described the very tiny details of the features of the Peking Opera - starting with the voices that each artist has to sing for the specific roles, the exact dressing for the particular roles, the masks that should be worn are also prescribed by inner traditions of the opera. The make-up of the artist represents the characters spiritual state, moral qualities, thoughts and feelings, the age and social status in the society. The make-up is divided into different colours that has the specific meaning, for example, red colour shows that the character is loyal and honest.

Overall, it was a pleasure to find out how the Peking opera is different from the Western. It is very unique in its own way, even if at the first time it seems to be very weird.