I promised to get back with a more detailed report, it’s also important for myself, I tend to forget what happened on a given day.
At 2pm, we saw the Beijing Opera “Ma Gu Offers a Birthday Present” at the Chang’an Theater. It’s a funny Mei school play. The story: Ma Gu is a smaller goddess, and wants to gift magical wine to Wangmu. No-one believes she will succeed, the eight immortals don’t help her, but finally she gets the wine and Wangmu promotes her.
My favorite from this performance was Goddess Taohua (Peach Flower), played by huadan Suo Mingfang.
Photos were not allowed, but I tried to make a few several times, but none of those worked out. The lighting was so intense that I simply couldn’t get a decent shot, although my camera is not bad at all. Compact digital cameras have limits.
Everyone who had a ticket got a pretty 2013 calendar featuring Zhang Xinyue (Ma Gu.)
After the performance we had a table reserved at the Yuxin Restaurant, which is located right in the theater. The Yuxin won the CNNGO Best Eats first prize in the “Spicy food” category.
Up until now, I thought I could eat anything spicy with ease, a sandwich with raw habanero peppers in no problem for me. I always said jalapeños are for the weak. But this Sichuan food… I ate from those jelly-strips the link mentions, the chili sauce was incredibly hot. I took a photo: take a look at the amount of big chili peppers on the biggest plate!
The soup-like thing was a very tasty, sweet smelling mushrooms and with a green vegetable I couldn’t identify (believe me, I’m good at veggies) in hot sauce. The strips are on the smallest plate. Actually I had a hard time because there was nothing you could cool down your mouth with, since the Chinese drink hot water. (Later we ordered plain cooked rice, but that was hot too.) When I burnt my tongue with the hot water, I really wanted to cry.
After dinner, there was plenty of time left before the concert, we checked out the program at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, but unfortunately no Chinese opera performance during my stay.
Here I am with the “Bird’s Egg”.
Had a walk in Zhongshan Park before the next concert began.
The hosts were Liu Mingzhe and Wang Yueling (a huadan I’ve never heard of).
It was the concert of the Beijing Jingju Theater, and because it was a special New Year’s performance, the tickets cost 1280 yuan, horrible. I got mine for free.
First was Yan Shouping 燕守平 famous jinghu master and some of his disciples performed some “springtime” jinghu music, it was very entertaining. Mr. Yan was wearing black trousers, black shoes, and bright red socks.
Here and there the program changed compared to the printed material. Performers were in order:
Sha Fei 沙霏 (a Cheng school qingyi, absolutely unknown to me)
Ding Guiling 丁桂玲
Zhang Shu 张澍
Han Juming (instead of Wang Pan)
Han Juming, Zhang Shu with Taking Tiger Mountain
Wang Yige (her dress and hairstyle was original again…)
Zhang Jianfeng (who was milestones better than in Red Cliff, now I could hear him correctly, also he could sing something that fits his school.)
Zhai Mo (laodan, I like her very much)
Yang Shaopeng (I think he was the tiniest in the whole bunch, but his Elvis-hairdo gets higher and higher each time I see him.)
Shang Wei (wife of Gao Tong- once she was a shining beauty, now she’s a bit, erm, not so shining.)
Gao Tong (Zhang Xuejin’s disciple, he’s not my big favorite.)
Shang Wei and Gao Tong also performed the famous segment from The White-haired Girl, it was entertaining.
Chen Junjie (who was performing in Ma Gu this afternoon – what a busy schedule!)
Ma Xiaoman 马小蔓 (Ma Lianliang’s daughter, works as qingyi.)
Wang Rongrong (She was the star of the evening.)
Li Chongshan 李崇善 (Veteran laosheng)
The concert ended around 22:30.
Next day, I had a full-day sightseeing extravaganza, I took a long walk in hutongs while munching mahua 麻花, saw a few shabby looking “houses” with the sign “Protected historical site of such-and-such district” and the legendary Zhengyici Theater 正乙祠戏楼 (it was closed); checked out the corso at the Arrow Tower, it was the most colorful thing I’ve ever seen; walked down Liulichang Street 琉璃厂路. After petting a few dogs I took the bus to the Niujie (Ox Street) Mosque. It really is beautiful. Not a single tourist was there, just local Muslims, I just walked in when an all-smiley guy started to wave a ticket, I bought that (10 yuan).
After that I still had the energy to see the oldest buddhist temple in Beijing, the Fayuansi 法源寺. Tourists: zero, locals: ca. 3 people. Actually you have to buy a ticket here, but it was too cold and nobody was in the mood to open the window just to sell a 10 yuan ticket! It was utterly peaceful, I spent lots of time there. Then I ran home, made tea, rushed to the Zhongshan Garden, I was late, but got there in time for the second concert.
Those performers I’ll list in the next mail, Bao Fei and Jiang Yishan were the hosts. The best in show for me was Mu Yu 穆雨, he’s better than Gao Tong, Zhao Hua. Learning pays off.
(above Mu Yu, swiped from here)