5. Entertainment

Peking Opera

Originally a form of local theatre, it spread all over the country and has become the national opera of China.
Peking Opera combines stylized acting with singing, dancing, musical dialogue, martial arts, colorful facial make up and fantastic costumes. Female roles are called dan, male roles are sheng, clowns are chou. Each role, according to their sex, age and disposition, is characterized by different designs of facial make-up. So the audience can easily tell what kind of characters the actors are portraying. Facial make-up, costumes and head - dresses are wonderful works of traditional art.
It is a must to see a Peking Opera while you are in Beijing, equivalent to seeing an opera if you go to Italy.

Puppet shows

Puppet shows in China have an amazing history stretching back two thousand years. Puppetry combines the different art forms of drama, singing, dancing, music, painting and sculpture. Like Peking Opera, the shows are based on folk tales and the like, and are very charming to watch, even if you don't speak Chinese. There are shadow puppet shows as well as marionette type puppets. The main keepers of the ancient art of puppetry are the members of the China Puppet Show Artistic Troupe.


Founded in1951, the Central Symphony Orchestra is one of the few orchestras which can offer a full repertoire from George F. Handel to Peter Tchaikovsky. The orchestra performs symphony concerts in Beijing Concert Hall every week. In addition, the Beijing Symphony Orchestra is a rising star in the field of western music.


Chinese acrobatic troupes have traveled to many countries around the world and have amazed audiences everywhere. The usual tourist reaction to a Chinese acrobatics show is something like "whoa! that was so...." You are not sure what to say. The contortions and balancing acts are quite incredible and sometimes seem almost super-human, or super rubber human. You will be at the edge of your seat through most of the show saying "don't fall, don't drop it!" And incredibly, they never do.

Song and Dance

There are a couple of national-class troupes that perform music and dance from various parts of China. In recent years, overseas visitors have been impressed by the Royal Song and Dance performed by the Beijing Song and Dance Troupe.

Ballet and Opera

Foreign visitors may be surprised to find that they can find the Sleeping Beauty, Madame Butterfly or Carmen in Beijing. The Central Ballet and Opera Theater is renowned for the quality and talent of its ballet dancers, its symphony orchestra and Western opera shows. The China Opera Theater is another well-known art troupe who puts on Chinese operas with a mixed singing method of Italian be canto and traditional Chinese singing.


Unlike other art forms, modern drama has only a 70-year history in China. The most famous theater in Beijing is the People's Art Theater. This theater puts on plays based on ancient Chinese stories as well as Chinese adaptations of Western drama. The Experimental Theater in Mao'er Hutong is also an excellent place to watch plays. There are now some very good plays written by Chinese playwrights.


Copyright © 2006-2007 powered by CNPT Lab. CS Dept., Tsinghua University. All Rights Reserved.