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Anhui Troupes and the Birth of Peking Opera

http://www.chinese.cn 00:18, October 26, 2009 China International Press

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Anhui Troupes and the Birth of Peking Opera
Anhui Troupes and the Birth of Peking Opera

In 1790, an Anhui troupe headed by Gao Langting came to Beijing to participate in performances in celebration of the 80th birthday of Emperor Qianlong.

Anhui Troupes

Anhui Troupes

It was soon followed by three other theatrical companies from Anhui - Sixi, Chuntai and Hechun. After doing their job, these Anhui troupes stayed in the capital to offer performances to the local public. By this time, what the Anhui troupes were offering was Peking Opera.

Peking Opera, which had been developed from an assortment of rural shows, had a wide range of audiences. They included not only members of the royal family, officials and scholars, but also merchants, townspeople and handicraftsmen. Peking Opera gradually became a townspeople-oriented performing art.

The Qing Dynasty was in a period of social stability and economic prosperity when the Anhui troupes brought Peking Opera to the capital city. At the turn of the 19-20th centuries when Peking Opera had come to maturity, Beijing had a thriving handicraft industry and commerce.

At the time, the Qianmen area was not only a commercial center but also had a concentration of theaters, teahouses and restaurants;and the Tianqiao and Bell Tower areas swarmed with street performers as well as peddlers and small traders.

These not only provided sources of audience for performances in the theaters but also brought new management methods for the theaters and Peking Opera companies.

 

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