As the quintessence of Chinese culture and a combination of China’s ancient opera skills, including singing, talking, acting and acrobatic fighting, Peking Opera is the world’s oldest art form replete with national characteristics. It is one of the world’s three leading classical dramatic arts (opera, ballet and Peking Opera).
From the time the four leading Hui Opera troupes came to Beijing in the 55th year (1790) of Emperor Qianlong’s reign until the end of the feudal dynastic period in the early 1900s, the Qing Dynasty emperors all loved Peking Opera. Modern Peking Opera follows the artistic tradition, but has evolved into a more sophisticated art form. The history of Peking Opera is actually a mini modern and contemporary history of China, representing its fall and rise. When Peking Opera was at its peak, gifted scholars and beautiful women, emperors and kings, ministers and generals were all played on the stage all over China. It was hard to buy a ticket for performances by the top Peking Opera stars such as Mei Lanfang, Shang Xiaoyun, Cheng Yanqiu and Xun Huisheng. These were household names the length and breadth of the country, and virtually synonyms for Peking Opera. Their singing and acting in their classical performances are still talked about and copied by Peking Opera fans in China and the rest of the world today. The Chinese consider that Peking Opera has its roots in their blood, and will never vanish.
Determined to inherit those roots, Wang Yao, a young photographer who once won the World Press Photo Award, goes backstage to record the life of Peking Opera performers and fans. In The Invisible Peking Opera, using her particular camera language, she finds in Peking Opera the breadth and depth of Chinese culture, history and literature, as well as the original lifestyle of the Chinese people.
At sunset, the world of Peking Opera still exists; in the depth of time, the sound of the jinghu (a two-stringed instrument accompanying Peking Opera) echoes. In The Invisible Peking Opera you are in the invisible world of fast and slow tunes….