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Diplomats and guests get Peking Opera experience

By CHEN NAN | China Daily | Updated: 2021-12-29 08:36
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Diplomats and their spouses experience the charm of Peking Opera at Tianleyuan Theater in Beijing on Monday. The event is part of the Taihu World Cultural Forum. FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY

Thirty diplomats from various countries, including Azerbaijan, Brazil, Pakistan, Spain and Indonesia, along with their spouses, were invited to experience Peking Opera at Tianleyuan Theater in Beijing on Monday.

The diplomats were introduced to the ancient art form and got to try on Peking Opera costumes and makeup, as well as watch performances.

The event, titled 2021 New Year's Experience Journey to Peking Opera for Diplomatic Missions in China, is part of the Taihu World Cultural Forum, a nonofficial platform created by China for international cultural exchanges.

"Peking Opera embodies the essence of Chinese traditional culture," Zheng Chuanxin, secretary-general of the forum, says in a video greeting to the diplomats.

"It's full of Chinese philosophy, aesthetics and traditional values, like loyalty, bravery and honesty. It's a great way to get to know Chinese culture by experiencing the ancient art form."

The forum, launched in 2008, was named after Taihu Lake in the Yangtze River Delta. Since its inception, the forum has successfully held six conferences in Suzhou in Jiangsu province, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, Shanghai, Macao, Beijing and Bengbu in Anhui province, respectively.

The forum has attracted hundreds of politicians, scholars, entrepreneurs and cultural notables from more than 80 countries and regions to share ideas and deepen mutual understanding among cultures.

The gray-brick Tianleyuan Theater is located in the capital's Qianmen area, a popular tourist spot. The theater has a history spanning more than 200 years and reopened in March 2019, after six years of renovation.

Peking Opera master Mei Lanfang (1894-1961) performed there for four years, from the tender age of 17. Cheng Yanqiu (1904-58) also premiered four of his classic Peking Opera shows, including The Legend of Hongfu and A Red Mole, at the theater from 1923 to 1927.

Both Mei and Cheng were known for their dan roles, that is, men who played female characters in Peking Opera pieces, because, at the time, women were forbidden to appear onstage.

The theater also produced one of the country's first female Peking Opera troupes, Chongyashe, in 1916.

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