William Dolby

Classical Chinese Translations and Research

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11. Peking Opera


Book Details

With translation and an introduction by William Dolby the first edition was self-published in 2003 although the actual translations were completed by Bill decades earlier. This work represents the 11th of 33 of the Chinese Culture Series.

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Peking Opera, sometimes called Beijing Opera, is the major surviving form of Chinese drama and viewed by many East and West as representative of the best features of Chinese theatre performance through the ages. For many, too, it is characterised by its visual aspects, acting techniques, music and singing: the melismatic singing, the skirling, exciting, fiddle music, the rousing clang of gongs, the breath-taking acrobatics and weapon-handling, the elaborately significant gestures, the symbolic props and stage décor, the brilliant-coloured and intriguingly diverse painted face-patterns, and the riotously gorgeous costumes and head-dresses. But no drama is a fine one without fine words, and the huge repertoire of Peking Opera has culled from a huge range of vivid and striking Chinese literature, and traditions. This book includes some of the most famous and long-loved Peking Opera’s, hoping to hint that it has been primarily the mighty themes and contents of the genre that have constituted its appeal.