Pingju Opera or Ping-style Clapper Opera, formerly known as Bengbeng Opera, was officially renamed Pingju Opera in 1935. It is popular among people in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, and northeast China.
In 1910, Cheng ZhaoCai, an artist of Bengbeng Opera, who combined the style of Lian Hua Lao in Eastern Hebei Province with the background of the song-and-dance duet popular in the Northeast of China, and the exquisite performing arts of Beijing Opera, Shadow Play, and Large Drum, brought Pingju Opera a new life. Since then, this new form of opera has been further developed and finally matured in practice.
Cheng Zhaocai is the father and the first playwright of Pingju Opera. His works, such as The Horse Widow, Matchmaker of Flowers, and Lady Yang San Jie, have become the classic representatives of Pingju opera. In addition, he has created many well-known Pingju plays, such as Wang Erjie and Her Husband, Filial Love of An An, Ma Siyuan Opening a Teahouse, Little Son-in-law, Liu Qiao‘er, Married Little Erhei, Qin Xianglian, and Lady Du Shiniang. The opera combines the singing features of Peking Opera and Wooden Clappers and is divided into two major roles, male and female.
In the early stage, there were only male and female roles in Pingju Opera. During its development, the roles of Sheng, Dan and Chou gradually emerged. Later, under the influence of Peking Opera and Clapper Opera, Qingyi, Hua Dan, Lao Dan, Xiao Sheng, Lao Sheng and Jester were formed.
Pingju Opera is popular in Northeast and North China and has gradually spread in the northwest and southwest parts of China. It has become a new form of opera that not only contains profound cultural traditions in the folk but also reflects the modern aesthetic consciousness. It also features the folk culture of eastern Hebei province with great historical research value.
Translator: ZHANG Ruochen
Reviewer: YE Lijuan