As a renowned local opera mainly prevailing in Southwestern China's Sichuan,
Yunnan, and Guizhou provinces, Sichuan Opera is characterized by unique solos,
refined acting, rich percussion, and talented comedians, whose skills are
unparalleled in the world. The opera's application to be enlisted as an
Intangible World Heritage is currently pending.
Sichuan Opera features vivid, humorous narration, singing, and acrobatics. It
also boasts a system of stylized movements and its acting is both exquisite and
lively. Sichuan Opera performances are always full of wit, humor, lively
dialogues, and pronounced local flavors. To portray special characters, the
opera incorporates a series of stunts, including the famous "face-changing." In
Chinese opera, facial makeup is usually painted, but in Sichuan Opera, the
performer can change his or her facial makeup in the snap of a finger right on
Most Sichuan Opera repertoires are adapted from the Chinese classical novels,
mythologies, legends, and folk tales. Statistics show that the total number of
Sichuan Opera plays exceeds 2,000.
Sichuan Opera is noted for its high-pitched tunes, accompanied only by
percussion instruments and choruses, without wind or stringed instruments. In
addition, this spectacular theatrical presentation features bright sets and
costumes, plus a combination of music, dance, and acrobatics. Among China's
current 300 local theater traditions, Sichuan Opera has thrived and developed
throughout ages as a distinct regional art form.
Its special characteristic -- one that distinguishes Sichuan Opera from other
theatrical traditions -- is its immense vitality and dynamic performances that
always strive to bring out an individual's artistic abilities into play to
ensure fresh material, variety, and creativity. In part due to its intimate
connection to a lively treasury of folk songs, Sichuan Opera reveals an
extraordinary flexibility and vitality of expression in its music and movements.
The development of Sichuan Opera is intrinsically linked to the natural
conditions in Sichuan. The principal agricultural products cultivated in
Sichuan's extraordinarily fertile soil include rice, tea, and mulberry trees,
whose leaves are used in the traditional industry of raising silkworms. Rustic
songs originally sung by boatmen and tea-plantation and rice-paddy workers
developed into famous local folk songs, which, in a sense, can be regarded as
the precursors of the province's great operatic tradition.