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Sichuanese opera

Origin of Sichuanese Opera

Sichuanese opera, also called Chuanju in Chinese pinyin, is one of the five most historic operas in China. Being originated in China's Sichuan province, its home remains in Sichuan till today with its influence holds in surrounding provinces like Yunnan and Guizhou as well. Chuanju has five different styles of singing named as Kunqiang,Gaoqiang, Huqin voice, Tanxi and Dengdiao.Treasured and passed on by generations of excellent Chuanju masters, face-changing and fire-spitting are the most fascinating parts of its performance. On 20th of May , 2006, Sichuanese opera had been included in the list of the national intangible cultural heritage by State Council.

Anecdotes of Sichuanese Opera

It originated in the Tang dynasty when it was called”chuanxi” at that time. In the reign of Tangxianzong in 806, there was a corrupted governor in Sichuan province named Liu Pi. The Chuanxi masters had secretly created a play about Liu to show his ruthlessness and cried out for people to conduct a riot against his rule. Yet it wasn't put on the stage publicly until later Liu had committed a bold treason. Not long after it had been released to public, it achieved a huge success and even became one of the most classic plays in Sichuanese opera’s history.
Face-changing in Sichuanese opera
Face-changing in Sichuanese Opera

What is Face-changing 

Apart from its singing,Sichuanese Opera is more like a play that contains quite some excellent stunts like face-changing, tihuiyan, sword-hiding, fire-spitting and beard-changing, among which the face-changing is the the most symbolic one in Sichuanese opera. During one opera, as the plots and moods of the characters change, the faces of the performers need to be changed accordingly as well. Performers usually wear several different faces in advance before the show begins and change them very quickly  at certain points. To make this movement quick and less visible to the audience, they often hold a delicate fan or use their cloaks in front of their face. Of course, all those movements are highly polished and done within just an eye blink. You would assume that they seem to be just dancing and jumping on the stage, yet surprisingly find that they have replaced a few new faces alre

Imagines of Face-changing

The faces of face-changing are supposed to be unknown individuals, rebellions and monsters, those historic heroes or marshals’ imagines are not used in this case. And the colors of these faces should be colorful and easy to distinguish as to make the whole performance delightful to audience. Furthermore, similar to the Beijing opera, different face colors represent different personalities of the individuals. Generally speaking, red represents loyalty and brave; black represents uprightness and justice; yellow and white could have negative meaning while gold and silver stand for monsters and Gods.

Secrets of the Fire-spitting 

Fire-spitting in Sichuanese opera
Fire-spitting in Sichuanese Opera

Fire-spiting in Sichuanese Opera is conducted to make the play more exciting and also represents demons or super powers in the play. To do fire-spitting the artists must need years of practice and do it with extreme caution for it can lead to accidental results if it is mis-conducted. Basiclly the principle will hold fuel in your mouth safely and spray it onto the torch carefully. In doing this, one must not breath during each spitting avoiding risk yourself in the danger of bring the fire onto yourself. Young students of this technique usually start from practicing spray water in the first place in case they swallow the fuel. In doing this they can manage to spray the water forcefully as vipor as they can because the magnificant of this art show in it s shape, and as you go further and more skillful, one could handle some other different fuels so the color of the fire can be changed into blue or even green by the varity of the fuels.