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Sichuan Opera


Later that night, we thought we'd take in the Sichuan Opera. After a fair bit of research yesterday and consulting people, we found one that was close enough to where we were staying. It was a tea house in the swanky Intercontinental hotel complex. We walked around the complex first, a bit intimidated, then decided to go inside and pretend that we didn't stick out like sore thumbs, just long enough to get directions and marvel at the holiday decorations. The guys at the front, dressed in uniforms, helped us without issue.

Still then, we managed to get lost and had to consult another host at a restaurant who spoke little English, but recognized the name Shunxing and mimed the directions for us. As we walked up to the carpet leading to the tea house, a group of uniformed musicians picked up their instruments and provided a soundtrack for our arrival. We were greeted by a friendly hostess after that.


The restaurant was nice with wood panels carved into nice designs and different sections to make the place seem huge. It looked too expensive to eat in, but we got ushered to the back to see the opera performance area and to pick our front and center seats. We went exploring to find a cheaper restaurant that also had an English or at the very least picture menu, but found little except an Italian place so we went back to the tea house.


We split an eggplant dish and rice that was almost reasonably priced, but Ryan's appetite still hadn't returned. It had a good rich sauce with that famous Sichuan heat. Other than taking a really long time to come out of the kitchen and our waitress disappearing conveniently as we wanted to pay before the show started, it was a nice experience.


Our front row table was nice and they even brought us tea and sweet snacks. The first act featured dancers with long feathers coming from their heads and colourful outfits.


Ryan's favourite act was a woman performing shadow puppets with her hands. She had an array of birds and animals to mimic to the gentle music. In one shadow puppet, she managed to even incorporate her pony tail and it was quite impressive.


An acrobat came up next to juggle and twirl various items like umbrellas with her feet while lying on her back.


Dancers with flowing green sleeves who performed as if they were scarves.


An intense tea pouring demonstration featured a man and woman who would spin long beaked kettles without spilling a drop. They managed to perform for around five minutes to show their skills.


Next came a play in Mandarin and from what we could discern, there was a marital dispute happening and the husband had to perform different ridiculous requests from the wife like balancing objects on his body. He was a bit cheeky about the whole thing but she wouldn't let him get away with slacking off.


A woman played music for us that nearly lulled us into sleep. It was beautiful, we had just had a really long day visiting pandas.


The final act was my favourite, the face changing opera. The whole show was less an opera and more a display of cultural performances. For the final one, the loud group of Chinese people behind us ended their show-long conversations to be captivated as well.


The actors and actresses wore bright colourful cloth masks. If you've seen Chinese face masks, you've probably seen them before. The different colours and patterns indicated different personality traits or emotions. The music was loud and epic as the performers would quickly turn or twirl to reveal a completely different mask while the previous had vanished. They continued to change faces as the show went on to the audience's delight. By the very end, the performers came into the audience and people were ecstatic to be in pictures with them. We were too tired to fight for our chance before the opportunity vanished, but one masked woman did thank us for coming.


Posted by Sarah.M 03:16 Archived in China Tagged china opera shadow face lost sichuan changing teahouse puppet

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