Author Topic: Chinese Opera  (Read 2458 times)

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Chinese Opera
« on: May 08, 2012, 12:31 pm »
I've just been officially signed on to stage manage a Chinese Opera style show for my university this coming winter. My department has ties with a group from China who will be coming in to work with us, and to do a performance of their own, which I'll also be working on.
I know a few basic things about the art form, but really, hardly anything. Obviously, I'll do my reaserch over the next few months, but I'm wondering if any of you have experience working with this art/culture that you'd be able to share. Or even any facts/links of general interest, that might give me a sense of what I'm getting myself into.


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Re: Chinese Opera
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2012, 08:28 pm »
The rental facility I worked for booked Chinese Opera at least once per year (I worked about 6 of the Operas).
Here are the things I recall:  The orchestra was on stage with the singers off to one side (we had a pit but they didn't use it).  The drops were amazing: made of silk (light weight).  The story usually revolves around a princess and there are long, long arias.  Fight sequences are involved.  Total run time was about 3 1/2 to 4 hours.  I always looked forward to and enjoyed these operas.
PM me if you have any other questions.


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Re: Chinese Opera
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2012, 02:02 am »
Some hints about Chinese Opera:

1- You will need a translator.
2- However, learn greetings, numbers and important theatrical terms in Chinese (probably Mandarin, but double check your show)  Do not expect the singers or musicians to speak English.  You will have to give calls to places and the time countdown in Chinese.
3- Have the translator make signs in chinese leading to stage, dressing rooms etc- mainland Chinese will read simplified characters, Taiwanese and Hong Kong people will read traditional characters
4- Just as in western opera, you don't call people by their given names, you can them with their family names plus title.  Example: DENG Mu Wei is a man's name.  DENG is his family name, Mu Wei is his given name.  In writing, write Deng Mu Wei or DENG Mu Wei and/or the Chinese characters.  When speaking call him Deng Laoshur.  Laoshur means "teacher."  All singers and musicians take that title, men and women.
5- When giving calls over tannoy or in person, use an authoritative tone.  Do not be light or cute or funny.  They will think you are joking and not listen to you.  (Honest)
6- Allow a really long time for hair and make-up.  The women's hair is not a one-piece wig.  It is made of many individual hair sections that are glued into place.  It takes forever.
7- Martial arts swords only last 1 or 2 shows.  If they get torn, they are trash.  Keep a very close eye on them and replace them often.
8- The orchestra does not use a western-style music score.  Their scores are made up of chinese characters and series of numbers.  You will not be able to read it or call cues from it.
9- Even more than western opera, the songs take a LONG time to say just a small sentence and the words are hard to understand.  Therefore even if you have a pinying/transleterated version of the lyrics, you will not really be able to call your cues very well from it.
10- You can memorize bit of the music to call cues from and bits of the lyrics to call cues from, but you are best calling it like a dance show.  Write out actions, words etc and draw pictures.
11- Learn the names of the instruments and what each one basically sounds like.  This will help.  For example, my first time, the director said "Call the cue half way through the pipa solo."  I had no idea what the pipa was or what it sounded like- my bad.

Feel free to PM me if you have more questions.