Home>News Center>Life

'Zile Ban' chanting ancient opera againt city wall
By Jeff (chinaculture.org)
Updated: 2005-11-16 15:27

While the charm of Xi'an usually originates from the grand ancient buildings and its time-honored history, the city has much more. Qinqiang, a local opera prevailing in Northwest China, represents the artistic height of the city's attraction. Listening to as well as singing Qinqiang has become an important part of many in the city. In the form of Zile Ban, Qinqiang has been exerting its influence among the people, hence maintaining its vitality.

Zile Ban, literally meaning self-entertaining class, usually consists of semi-professional performers who were formerly amateur. No stage and lighting are required. With only a few simple musical instruments, the performers stage the sorrows and joys of life almost anywhere. Walking along the City Wall, one could easily find a number of Zile Bans. With the sky as the curtain and earth as the stage, Zile Ban is completely free in nature. Both the performers and the spectators are very engaged into the program.

The amateur performers, who gather mainly in the form of Zile Ban, can be frequently found under the ancient City Wall. They may come from distinctively different walks of life, but yet share the same artistic hobby. They are also all good at singing, or playing accompanying musical instruments. Despite their amateur status, many of the participants are actually versatile.

The reason why Xi'an people love Qinqiang not only lies in the antiqueness of the art form as a cultural relic. It's also because the snarling and screaming style best echoes the desires and feelings of their souls.

The form of Zile Ban has greatly enhanced the dissemination and popularity of Qinqiang Opera, which has become an indispensable part in the cultural scene of Xi'an. Most of the local people can sing some lines of the opera, and almost every village has its own Zile Ban. During major festivals like the Spring Festival, the villagers indulge themselves to satisfy their addiction to the opera art form.

There are several grandiose professional Qinqiang Opera troupes like the famous Yisu Theater, where a number of opera masters gather. However, common citizens don't quite frequent those places; instead, they more often participate in or listen to Zile Ban along the City Wall.

With fervent love for Qinqiang, people from all ages in Shaanxi Province favor the Qinqiang TV program. Among the dozens of TV stations and hundreds of programs, Voice of Qin, a program promoting Qinqiang by the Shaanxi Provincial TV Station, has been the audience-rating winner for more than ten consecutive years.

When people from outside of Shaanxi Province observe the unique singing style of Qinqiang Opera, especially that of the "painted face," they are usually astonished by its intensity and exaltation, and jokingly summarize three necessary requirements for the performance of Qinqiang: First, the stage must be solid enough so that it would not collapse when the performers are singing; second, the performers must be strong enough so that they won't tire out in their long career; and third, the spectators must be bold and audacious enough so that they won't be too scared to enjoy the performance. Though those words may be a little exaggerative, they have in a way demonstrated the artistic feature of the art form.

According to the historical records of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Qinqiang had been spread to all of China except the provinces in the northeastern part of the country.

As a local opera mainly prevailing in Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, Qinqiang Opera was formed in the Mid-Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Kunqu, Yiyang tune, and other local art forms have influenced it throughout its development. With wooden clapper as the rhythm instrument, the music is loud, vehement, and sonorous, and the opera excels in expressing majestic, angry, solemn, and stirring sentiments. The art form disseminated across the country at the juncture of the Ming and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, exerting influences at different levels to a lot of local operas in China, including Peking Opera.

Stone settles lawsuit with plastic surgeon
Jolie & Becks, gays 'dream partners'
Zeta-Jones has a 'killer' night in N.Y.
  Today's Top News     Top Life News

Bush reiterates US support for 'one-China' policy



China to vaccinate entire poultry stock



FM: Japan needs to learn from Germany



GM bankruptcy fears rising on Wall Street



Henan police deal 'most wanted' cards



Wider access for foreign miners promised


  'Zile Ban' chanting ancient opera againt city wall
  Clinton is world's 'most influential man': Magazine
  Lennon killer says he was unstoppable
  Coffee in pregnancy may be risky: study
  Survey: Beijingers increase overtime
  Anger management arrives on campus
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Could China's richest be the tax cheaters?  
Manufacturers, Exporters, Wholesalers - Global trade starts here.