The Influence Of Beijing Opera Over Cantonese Opera Costume Design

The Influence Of Beijing Opera Over Cantonese

Many Chinese Opera costumes have a rich history and were an imitation of what used to be in the past. As far as the costume design of Cantonese opera is concerned, it has traces back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

Many Cantonese operas were basically about social reality in the 20th century, and so, the theme of the shows always influence the choice of their costumes ( the performers also appeared in western style clothing or contemporary costumes)


Influence Of Beijing Opera Over Cantonese Opera
Influence Of Beijing Opera Over Cantonese Opera

The Influence Of Beijing Opera Over Cantonese Opera Costume Design

However, as time goes on, there was an increase in exchange between the performers of Cantonese and Beijing operas, and Beijing opera costumes begin to influence the choices of that of the Cantonese theatre.

Generally, as things evolved, Chinese operas were designed to attract more audiences and spectators by making shiny and eye-catching costumes for actors and actresses. Beaded costumes became popular. In fact, there are times whereby very little electric light bulbs were utilized just to get the gaze of the viewers.

In current times, embroidered costume become a major thing in Cantonese opera. The costume design is largely determined by various things, including gender, the role the character is playing, the plot of the opera, the personality of characters and so on.

Theatrical costumes are commonly classified into official robes, coats, armor, cloaks, gowns with sloping collars, gowns with vertical collars, etc.

We should also note that the various types of costumes are matched with a specific headgear, footwear and facial make-up.

Before now, as far as make-up is concerned in Cantonese opera, performers were commonly very heavily adorned with crude cosmetics. Usually, the performers are expected to put on their make-up on their own. Even with this, each performer’s makeup has its own unique characteristics. The manner a clown will make up his face must be different from a character playing the role of, let’s say, a king.

However, as things evolves, steps were taken to improve the traditional make-up. And so, Cantonese operas borrowed some techniques from Beijing Opera and Western movies. Therefore, the make-ups became more natural.

One of the most popular makeup techniques is what is known as the “white and red face”. This simply refers to the usage of white foundation with a red color around the eyes of the character, that then fades down to the bottom of their cheeks.

Méimáo tōngcháng hěn zhǎng, kǒuhóng tōngcháng shì shǎn liàng de hóngsè.

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