Mon 10 Mar 2014
Mon 10 Mar 2014
Sun 9 Mar 2014
Géza alerted me this week to the fact that this impressive looking CCTV documentary had been translated into English.
The wonder and love shows in every scene. Needless to say, if you are new to Peking Opera, this is a splendid place to start.
The complete series is presented here:
(45 minutes, 170 MB)
Sun 16 Sep 2012
Today a splendid CCTV New Frontiers documentary on the history of Chinese musical instruments, in English. Very informative and simple to understand, I learned the difference between a pipa and a ruanxian, which I have both seen played in Beijing Opera concerts!
This video is freely available from here, but although intended for western audiences, from where I am in North America it is impossible to watch one of these videos from beginning to end from the web page without serious clipping (i.e. bandwidth limitations).
Nor can the video be downloaded easily, nor once downloaded can it be assembled easily! I had the same technical issues with this one as with two parts from the Kunqu opera series I posted last week.
I am including all three parts in multiple five minute segments in one zip file. It’s a minor annoyance to have more files, but you will see that it is well worth the inconvenience!
The video comes in three parts, each roughly a half hour long. The beginning of Part 2 and Part 3 re-run about 5 minutes from the previous part right at the beginning, please note this is not a mistake on my part, but rather a desire by Chinese editors to format the videos to fit a time slot.
Click here to download a zip file containing all the video files (262 MB, videos are .mp4 format)
Sat 8 Sep 2012
Fern has deserted us for a couple of weeks, she is off to Sicily to see Beijing Opera and, like everyone else, to try to catch a glimpse of George Clooney. Good luck Fern! Bring back autographs!
I feel I have to compensate for Fern’s absence somewhat, but it’s going to be hard to write anything of substance without her help, gulp! But here goes a first try!
Today, I am posting the CCTV New Frontiers series of video documentaries on Kunqu Opera titled, “600 Years of Kunqu Opera”. The documentary consists of 10 roughly half hour segments. This very peaceful and nice production was originally made in Chinese, and later reformatted by CCTV in English, targeting western audiences. I found the videos very relaxing and informative. To untrained western eyes and ears, there is very little difference between Beijing Opera and Kunqu Opera, but in fact there is a great deal. Kunqu is slower, and feels dreamier. It feels more ancient.
Classic plays such as “The Peony Pavillion”, “The Palace of Eternal life” and the “Peach Blossom Fan” are explained and put into historical context. It’s a must-watch.
I should mention that I did have some technical problems along the way:
It is very hard to view these videos on the CCTV website from North America because of bandwidth issues.
Next, it is very difficult to download the videos to view them offline because the Firefox plugin Download Helper will only get the first five minutes or so of the 26 minute segments.
Next, Vidown works correctly to download the individual segments of video and assemble them only about half the time and when it does, it plays the first 26 minutes, then starts the program again. So the “successful” files end up 50% longer than they need to be.
I shortened those “too long” video segments on Ubuntu Linux using the command-line ffmeg utility, with a command like:
ffmpeg -vcodec copy -acodec copy -ss 0 -t 00:26:00 -i “Kungqu Opera Part 4.mp4″ Kunqu-04.mp4
This resulted in a segment of the correct length without any video or audio loss.
Four of the 10 segments arrived seriously scrambled by Vidown when assembled, so I downloaded those a second time. Same result, scrambled and corrupt.
I tried to assemble the individual segments myself with a command like:
cat Kungqu\ Opera\ Part\ 3_1.mp4 Kungqu\ Opera\ Part\ 3_2.mp4 Kungqu\ Opera\ Part\ 3_3.mp4 Kungqu\ Opera\ Part\ 3_4.mp4 Kungqu\ Opera\ Part\ 3_5.mp4 Kungqu\ Opera\ Part\ 3_6.mp4 > NEW.MP4
Did not work!
Also tried MP4Box to assemble, no go!
So these 4 segments are each in 6 smaller video files as originally downloaded by Vidown. At least this way the documentary is complete and watchable from beginning to end.
The files are all .mp4 and can be watched using VLC.
(size of zip file: 831 MB)
Tue 7 Feb 2012
I posted the videos below a year ago. Today, Fern found these illustrations from the books mentioned in the videos at http://bbs.enet.com.cn/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=99563&extra=page%3D1&page=1
We think they have been reproduced in a book called 升平署戏曲人物画册.
I’ve tried my best to adjust the colors from the predominant yellow, and to resize them to fit here.
There are few things in life as pure and beautiful Beijing Opera. These are simply magnificent.
The World Digital Library Online also has these illustrations in high definition online under the title “Office of Great Peace Album of Opera Faces“and you can download a very nice PDF there (also mirrored here).
(The dates seems wrong if you compare those mentioned in the video ?)
The book pictured above is several hundred years old.
Its story in three parts.
Fri 5 Aug 2011
Posted by Bertrand under Documentaries in English, Favorite performers, Getting Started / "Orientation" 开始, Jingju / Beijing Opera / Peking Opera 京剧, Mao Weitao 茅威涛, Re-posted, Wang Rongrong 王蓉蓉, Yueju / Shaoxing Opera 越剧
(originally published on: Jun 15, 2010)
Two videos to bring home the point just how hard it can be to be a Chinese Opera performer.
The first with Wang Rongrong, currently the head of the Beijing Peking Opera Troupe, who explains, “You would never guess how much an ordinary Peking Opera actor earns per month, it’s just several hundred yuan. How would you feel if you earned that amount after performing for ten years? “
The second video features Shaoxing Opera actress Mao Weitao. I found it through the China Opera Lovers Facebook page. In addition to giving a brief introduction to this kind of opera where male roles are played by cross-dressing women, it shows the renowned world class actress practicing with her troupe in an unheated loft during winter.
The stage hand wears a winter coat indoors while Mao Weitao dances in three layers of pullovers.
I don’t think Renée Fleming would rehearse in such conditions!!! Flabbergasting.
The Youtube link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfsCxiKopNI
File format is .MP4, it can also be played on VLC and the file size is 43 MB.
Fri 5 Aug 2011
(originally published on: May 30, 2010)
A quick half-hour introduction to Beijing Opera, perfect for beginners and with an interesting look at Beijing tea houses.
File size is 157 MB.
Thu 4 Aug 2011
(originally published on: May 28, 2010)
File size is 217 MB.
Thu 4 Aug 2011
(originally published on: May 22, 2010)
File size is 195 MB.
Thu 4 Aug 2011
(originally published on: May 13, 2010)
File size is 215 MB.