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Shaka goes to the Opera while studying at FDU’s Chengdu American Study Center
Shaka, a Metro student, shared how she had the experience of a lifetime while studying at FDU’s American Study Center in Chengdu, China!

The Office of Foreign Affairs has done it again! I was pleased to be surprised with tickets to a marvelous Sichuan Opera. I have personally never attended an opera in America, but I can now check that off my hidden list of things to do here in China. The people of China hold their tradition very closely to their hearts and the Chinese culture is reflected into all of the Opera shows, thus the Chinese people love seeing Operas. Although they love the Opera, many locals have never been to see an Opera in person making the experience much more extraordinary for me. 

I have only been studying the Chinese language for about two months and I think it is reasonable when I say that I am not fluent in Chinese. I have a general understanding of what the locals are saying to me if they speak very slowly, but the language barrier at the Opera was surprisingly no problem for me. The show titled “Tale of Red Plum” had a very interesting plot. A plot interesting enough to keep my attention the entire time and provide me with a great understanding of the story. I am proud to say that I understood some parts and I was able to fill in the blanks while keeping up with the show. This was also a breath of fresh air to me because it showed me that all my hard work and long nights of studying the Chinese language is paying off. Being invited to observe a Chinese Opera also encouraged me to do a bit of research on the topic.

Sichuan Opera (Chuan Ju) was initiated at the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). That is almost four hundred years ago! The opera started with having a very similar plot in each story line. It then branched out for the better with the flood of immigrants into Sichuan. The mix of people and cultures generated different dramas. The different dramas also began to blend with the local dialect, customs, folk music and dances. Slowly but surely, Sichuan Opera had a humorous taste added to it as its last key component which is not the Chinese opera that we all love today. Face changing and fire blowing is the highlight of Sichuan Opera. It is said that ancient people painted their faces to drive away wild animals. Sichuan Opera soaks up this ancient skill and now has it perfected into an art.

The plot of the “Tale of Red Plum” also gave me insight on the ancient culture of China. It was a story of a young lady in the late Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) named Li Huiniang. She was chosen, but refused to be the mistress of the cunning prime minister. He wanted her all to himself but she fell in love with a scholar who came to visit the prime minister.  She was then tragically killed by the prime minister, but as a ghost she kept refusing to accept the cold heartedness of the prime minister and continually troubled until his death at last. 

Although this was not on the top of my “list of things to do while in China,” I am happy that I was given the chance to attend and gained all the experience that came along with it.

 

 

Author:
Shaka
 
Date:
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
 
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