Beijing Opera was losing its audiences since traditional plays were allowed to stage after the Culture Revolution. One of the reason is due to the disappearance of traditional plays during the Culture Revolution. The then Eight Model Plays used the standard Mandarin for the arias and conversations except very rare cases for rhyme. When it came to be shown again, the special pronunciation Yun Bai used in the traditional plays soon discouraged a lot of the young Chinese. Most of them are lack of relevant historical and literature knowledge due to the break down of the education systems during Culture Revolution and they did not understand the dialogues of the plays. Its simple stage design and orchestra counted another factor. A third factor is that its pace had been out of the young generation's tolerance, who had been attracted by the modern movies and concerts of romance. The theater policy was also under attack which prohibited the entrance of children under 5. The prohibition eliminated the possibility that children would unintentionally develop their interests in opera like those before.
The name of the traditional plays do not sound attractive to the young while the titles of the movies looked like exciting. To cope with this situation, sometime a play was given a new name to makes it more attractive to audience, especially when it was filmed. Some people in satirizing this phenomena suggested to rename "The Temple of Gan-Lu" as The Romance of Royal Liu and "Going Palace the Second Time" as A seating Lady and Two Standing Gentles, etc.
In the urban there are a variety of entertainment's, from the computer game cities to dancing halls, karaokay music Saloon and pop music concerns. Young people nowadays are the main entertainment consumers. They are more like to go pop music nights and may not have any interest in going a Beijing Opera concert. Beijing Opera players began to seek audiences in the rural area. Anyway, Beijing Opera is not what it used to be. It has to change to suit the audience's taste. And there is a task to teach people how to understand the play. Sometime Beijing Opera arias are included in some ... (to be continued.)
First edition: February 1, 1996
Last revision: February 1, 1996
(C) Copyright 1996 Xu-Ming Wang