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Introduction

Welcome to the A Collection Of Beijing Opera Scholarly Resources website. This website will be helpful in providing Beijing opera resources in English in a variety of areas: Beijing opera history, performers, role types, play contents/summaries, performance, costume and makeup, international exchanges, and teachers' resources. Each page is organized with a list of books and the corresponding annotations with a quote from each book. Some of the books are listed in two different areas since they contain content relevant to both areas. Scholarly internet resources related to the area are listed at the bottom of the pages. Pictures and videos are interspersed throughout the resources. When pictures are clicked the user is directed to a website with related content.

Beijing Opera Definition

As a general definition, Beijing opera as an opera genre that transmits culture through performing stories, events, and myths that occurred throughout Chinese history. The play plots are transmitted through the actor's highly structured movements, costumes, face-painting as well as the actions of singing, speaking, dance-movement and fighting (Wichmann 1991:2) (Mackerras 1997: vii). The opera is special for Chinese in the People's Republic of China (PRC) because they view it as the national opera, the opera that is performed in Mandarin Chinese and broadcasted in a national television channel (CCTV11) (Li Ruru 2010: 6) See (International Exchanges).

Author Background

Let me provide some details about me as the website author. My name is Ania Peczalska. I have spent two years in Shanghai and during that time conducted pedagogy research at the Shanghai Opera Institute (Shanghai Xiqu Xueyuan) in Spring 2007 as well as watched about forty Beijing opera performances at the Shanghai Yifu Theatre. I also am competent in Mandarin Chinese and have written several essays on Beijing opera for ethnomusicology classes. Currently I am completing a dual M.A. degree in ethnomusicology and library science from Indiana University-Bloomington. This website functions as my thesis project. Thus, I have also created a page for the accompanying document that addressed the website more in-depth as well as the corresponding issues of digital scholarship authority.

Personal photo of the entrance to Shanghai Opera Institute. Taken in May 2007.

Collection Parameters

I decided to only discuss books and provide websites accessible to the public in order to be able to fully address the various aspects in Beijing opera fully. In other words, limiting the resources used allowed me to provide resources in a variety of areas instead of one. I also limited the resources to those which addressed Beijing opera in mainland China, the People's Republic of China (PRC). From this point on, China will refer to the PRC. I chose the PRC because I wanted to focus on the place where the opera began. My final restriction was to select Beijing opera performance and performance style without Communist influences: traditional Beijing opera that was established before the PRC in 1949 and that also continued being performed during the PRC period. My purpose in focusing on traditional Beijing opera is twofold. I wish to share a part of traditional Chinese culture as well as briefly allow readers see through the sources how it has survived changes in Chinese society since 1949.

Locating Materials

When doing my research on what materials to include for the project, I discovered that many of the books on my website are not commonly bought by most academic libraries. According to a worldwide academic library catalog, OCLC's WorldCat, some of the resources are not even available in North American libraries. Therefore I recommend that reader use interlibrary loan at a local library in order to get these materials.

Chinese Romanization System

The reader might notice that some of the books and scholarly websites list Beijing opera as Peking opera. The two different names have existed co-dependably for some time. Since many non-Chinese readers cannot reader Chinese characters, the sounds of the characters are transferred to a romanization system where different words are written in the Roman alphabet. The term Beijing comes from the pinyin romanization system introduced under the PRC government while Peking origin is from the older Wade-Giles romanization system. Today the researcher or others interested in Beijing opera will see roughly equal proportions of the terms Beijing opera and Peking opera. I decided to use the term Beijing opera in my website since the term comes from the romanization system most popular today: pinyin. I also will assume that the reader is more familiar with pinyin rather than the Wade-Giles. Since some of the older books use the Wade-Giles romanization I will add a notice that the book is written in the Wade-Giles romanization in the annotation. I also included in the notice a Wade-Giles to pinyin convertor link that lists the Wade-Giles words and the corresponding pinyin (see below).


Library of Congress Pinyin Conversion Project. 1999. New Chinese Romanization Guidelines. Library of Congress. May 28. http://www.loc.gov/catdir/pinyin/romcover.html. 28 Sept. 2010.

Da Dengdian performed by Li Shengsu
newtututube. 2008. Beijing opera. Sept. 16. Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN9iXlfxpxI&feature=related. 1 Oct. 2010.