(originally published on: Apr 9, 2011)
This is a post I plan to update once in a while. Here are my recommendations for buying Beijing opera online.
It should be noted I live in North America. Fern was just telling me many online stores refuse to ship to Eastern Europe.
Right now, April 2011, my favorite place to shop for Beijing Opera is book-wholesale.com, for several reasons:
- they accept Paypal
- they have a superb selection of what I want, i.e. hard-to-find Zhang Huoding, Li Shengsu and Yu Kuizhi material
- the packing is absolutely top notch
- they have very good prices
I’ve ordered twice from them and will do so again this weekend. It takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the parcel to arrive from China. So no overnight delivery!
I’ve ordered once from buyoyo.com in Hong Kong as well. Right now, you can get Zhang Huoding’s traditional arias CD for less than 6 dollars. Very good follow up, packing is all right. Their web site is not very searchable, and at least one item is mis-labeled — that’s Guo Wei singing the role that Zhang Huoding made famous on the DVD, not Zhang Huoding herself! But I would happily order from them again.
I ordered once from yesasia.com, they have a top notch English-language version web site. Unfortunately they have little product originating from Beijing. It’s the best place for Cantonese Opera, however. I ordered Director John Woo’s digitally remastered DVD “Princess Chang Ping” starring Lung Kim Sang and Mui Suet Si there, which was inexpensive, a very good English subtitled copy. I realized a third of the way into the picture the prince is a trouser role (doh!) This movie was a good evening’s entertainment to accompany a Chinese dinner.
I’ve said it before, the book “Beijing Opera Costumes: The Visual Communication of Character and Culture” by Alexandra Bonds is a must. It’s a steal at Amazon. I wish she would write a sequel! Large excerpts from this book can be viewed online here.
Today was a sunny Easter Monday here where I live.
It got sunnier when I found a big Fedex package at my door. My Zhang Huoding photo art book arrived!
It comes in a grey polyester duku.cn tote bag (the publishing company of the book), along with a little cardboard box of 12 high quality glossy postcards I will never ever put in a post box.
A big slipcase box contains the two volumes shrink-wrapped in plastic for freshness. The volumes are square, about 11.5 inches to a side. The cover is a plain pink soft cover cardboard that belie what’s inside — high quality glossy full page color photographs about the same quality as you would get in an issue of the National Geographic.
There are 358 pages total, the numbering of volume 2 resumes where the numbering of volume 1 left off.
I was a bit leery beforehand that one volume would be devoted to photographs of traditional opera and the second volume to photographs of modern operas, but thankfully only about 50 pages of volume 2 are devoted to modern opera. The editors did their duty but clearly they agree with me that traditional Beijing opera is where Zhang Huoding shines brightest.
This book is absolutely a labour of love. I read it took two years and a fortune to shoot, and it shows.
Incredibly, I received my copy absolutely intact in 8 days from Hangzhou, China to Canada’s east coast, defensively packed with love. The book is available right now from book-wholesale.com who gave me terrific service in response to a special request. Thank you!
My highest recommendations.