The Beijing Opera is a rich and complex musical theatre that developed in the course of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the old capital Beijing. Classical Beijing opera combines music, dance, song, drama, recitation, pantomime, acrobatics, and martial arts
In conjunction with costumes, make-up, and props, the genres allow the performers to convey time, location, and contents of the play. The characters and contents of the Beijing opera are taken from classical literature, old myths and popular legends, as well as historical events, but the intention is not to represent reality on stage. Typical features of the Beijing opera include enciphering and typecasting as well as allusions and abstractions.
Only very few aficionados still command the knowledge required for decoding the complex movements, gestures, and mimic features performed on stage. Today the Beijing opera stands between preserving the old tradition and modernising in order to reach a larger audience.
Opera festivals and competitions, television broadcasts, and overseas tours by famous opera troupes help to make this singular stage art more popular among the wider public.