I can honestly say this is the first opera I've ever seen. So I took a buttload of pictures. The opera was pretty enjoyable. The costumes were fascinating to watch!! That definitely helped make up for the fact that I couldn't understand anything. Luckily, Sophia translated at key moments. And I knew the story coming in, so I could at least get the gist of what was going on.
I'm not going to lie: the singing and music was ... um ... well, every bad cliche you've probably heard about Beijing Opera's aural component probably is true. The shrill singing, the arrhythmic music, the strange sounds, etc. It's all there. Like I said, I didn't mind too much; after all, it's part of the experience. Some of the high notes resonated in my ears a bit too much. But I stopped expecting the music to have a beat, and that helped also.
Onto the visuals. First, read through the story real quick. That'll help things make sense.
Click each picture for a full-size version.
We open with Qin Xianglian. Her and her two daughters have not seen Xianglian's husband, Chen Shimei, in three years.
They travel to Beijing but are confronted by Shimei's guard.
Xianglian pleads her case to Wang Yanling, a local administrator. Here's a video:
On the advice of Yanling, Xianglian sneaks into Shimei's birthday party disguised as a minstrel.
Qi Han, following orders from Shimei, prepares to kill Xianglian and her daughters.
Xianglian pleads for her life.
Xianglian and her daughters weep over the body of Qi Han who, after hearing their story, agreed to spare their lives. Realizing he could not return to Shimei in failure, he kills himself.
At his trial, Shimei attempts to kill Xianglian. He is stopped by the judge, Bao Zheng.
Shimei is stripped of his finery and title ...
And hauled off to prison, sentenced to death.
Shimei's family pleads for his life, but to no avail.
If you made it all the way to the bottom here, I have a special treat for you. This is from a small little opera that came before the main one.