Peking Opera appreciated in DC

Updated: 2016-04-30 01:05

By HUA SHENGDUN in Washington(China Daily USA)

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Peking Opera appreciated in DC

Mei Wang (fourth from left), founding member of the DC Beauty of Beijing Opera Ltd (DCBBO), plays Yang Yuhuan in Legend of Lady Yang Yuhuan at a Beijing Opera Gala organized by DCBBO in Silver Spring, Maryland, on April 23. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Given Washington's cultural web of museums, art galleries and sold out concerts, some longtime residents might think they've seen it all. But one lesser-known art form has emerged that Western audiences in particular are widely unacquainted with — Peking Opera.

"This is one of the most beautiful and elegant performing arts, and should be appreciated by as many people as possible," said Cynthia Yung, one of the founding members of DC Beauty of Beijing Opera Ltd (DCBBO).

The DCBBO hosted this year's opera gala at the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Saturday.

The organization was founded three years ago by five Peking Opera enthusiasts, with the goal of promoting the traditional Chinese theater in the eastern US.

In particular, "we wanted to reach a non-Chinese audience to help them understand what Peking Opera is and let them know how to appreciate this unique performing art," said Yung.

Peking Opera differs in many aspects compared with its Western counterpart. The costumes feature robes of brilliant colors and ornate embroidery; singers pitch songs at the top of their vocal range; and musicians play distinctively Chinese instruments such as the jinghu (a Chinese violin).

Saturday's gala opened with a performance of Female Generals of the Yang Family, a classic piece in Peking Opera. Sharon Che, one of the founding members of DCBBO, performed as Madam She Taijun.

Her tale was one of tragedy and triumph. After every male in the legendary Yang family was killed in combat, Madam Taijun took it upon herself to lead a group of daughters and widows to victory over the fearsome Jin army.

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