Peking Opera - Bel Canto in Chinese: Introducing Its Vocal Training Process

By Zhang, Wen | Journal of Singing, November/December 2011 | Go to article overview

Peking Opera - Bel Canto in Chinese: Introducing Its Vocal Training Process


Zhang, Wen, Journal of Singing


(ProQuest: ... denotes non-USASCII text omitted.)

INTRODUCING PEKING OPERA

PEKING OPERA, A CHINESE CULTURAL TREASURE with a history of over 200 years, is a synthesis of singing, dancing, acting, and acrobatics, as well as instrumental music. A widely regarded expression of Chinese culture, Peking Opera includes many historic events and legends in its rich and large repertoire, and it features a great variety of dramatic gestures, artistic face painting, and elaborate costumes in its performances. It is a highly entertaining and fascinating art form, even to people who do not understand Chinese.1

During the ten-year Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), there were eight so-called "Revolutionary Operas" that dominated theaters and media throughout China; the rest of Peking Opera repertoire was dismissed as the legacy of feudalism. Those eight operas were promoted for ideological reasons to meet Chairman Mao's and his wife Madam Jiang's political views. As most Chinese in that generation could sing quite a few songs from the eight operas, the phenomenon was historically famous as "800 million people with eight operas" (the population of China at that time).

In the late 1970s, as China began to open to the Western world, Chinese people were newly exposed to modern Western music. Likewise, Chinese culture started to attract Western society; foreigners visited China and wished to learn its legends from Peking Opera. Since then, that national treasure has made significant contributions to cultural exchange. Oscar-winning Chinese composer Tan Dun incorporated a great deal of Peking Opera style into his new opera, The First Emperor, which had a successful world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in 2006; it featured Western opera legend Placido Domingo in ten performances singing the leading role of the Chinese Emperor.

In recent years, Peking Opera has faced the same challenges troubling Western opera: reduced audiences and lack of newcomers. Instead of offering discount tickets and free lectures to young generations (as is the case with American opera houses), the Chinese Ministry of Education recently announced a pilot program of teaching Peking Opera in elementary and high schools. Fifteen carefully selected works from the Peking Opera repertoire have been added to the music curricula of 200 schools in ten provinces throughout China. This move immediately drew public attention, and the educational approach has spawned diverse opinion. A survey by Netease (news portal in China) shows that twenty-seven percent of the participants believe that such a course can foster a new generation of Peking Opera fans; seventeen percent think the course should not be compulsory, as students' opinions should be respected; if students are forced to learn, they will lose interest. Additionally, some question the high school teachers' abilities to cope with the challenges of teaching the selected repertoire, because Peking Opera is a sophisticated art form requiring years of professional training for one to attain proficiency.

Introducing Peking Opera into school curricula and getting students interested in the course can be challenging, especially when one considers that most young Chinese have been drawn to rock and pop music in a fashion similar to the phenomenon of American Idol in the United States. Serious procedures have been established to meet this challenge. The fifteen selected opera repertoires have been carefully reviewed by a panel of educators and other experts to ensure that the selections represent the great art form of Peking Opera, and can be meticulously taught to students in modern Chinese languages. Meanwhile, some professional outreach programs are available to help teach the projects in schools.

VOICE TRAINING AT EARLY AGES

Peking Opera has a tradition of training performers at early ages, usually between eight and twelve years old. Students are carefully selected to enter the Opera Garden, a Peking Opera school for an eleven year training program, which includes voice training (chanting and singing), body training (dancing and fighting), and general history and culture studies. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Upgrade your membership to receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad‑free environment

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Upgrade your membership to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Peking Opera - Bel Canto in Chinese: Introducing Its Vocal Training Process
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved in your active project from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Upgrade your membership to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.