Behind the Painted Faces: The Art of Peking Opera

On Tuesday, March 8, 2011, Dr. Huimin Qi presented a lecture entitled, “Behind the Painted Faces: Peking Opera” to a large group of students, faculty, and community members at UCA.  Dr. Qi is a visiting professor of music from Qingdao University with a PhD in Ethnomusicology from the Chinese National Academy of Arts.

Peking Opera is a form of traditional Chinese theater utilizing song, dance, music, speech and choreographed fight scenes. In her lecture, Dr. Qi explained the long history and evolution of opera in China, from the early days when every locality had its own divergent style, to the standardization of music, characterization and language using a common northern dialect, to the gradual development of the modern style of Peking Opera.

Dr. Qi also discussed the ways in which Confucian ideas and traditional Chinese values are subtly and intrinsically made apparent in Chinese Opera. For example, it embodies the ideal of being able to appreciate the beauty in all things in that beauty in every sound and movement is the primary underlying component of Chinese Opera.  Also, even during duets, the two performers sing in unison, symbolizing harmony and collective cooperation.

Dr. Qi’s lecture was very thorough and informative.  Most of the attendees have never seen a Chinese Opera performance but were able to get a general idea of the importance, beauty and history surrounding this treasured Chinese tradition.