Feature: Peking Opera kicks off Italy's celebration for 10th anniversary of Confucius Institute worldwide
by Alessandra Cardone
ROME, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- The most impressed were children. The unusual combination of vibrant music, vivid makeup and costumes, dances and acrobatics being performed at the Brancaccio Theatre in Rome, seemed to both enchant them and make them eager to join in.
Yet, grown-ups showed no less fascination for the show, especially those who never had a chance of seeing the Peking Opera before.
"It was very interesting, and I think also a genuine introduction to Chinese traditional culture," young Francesco Pennacchia from Rome told Xinhua.
"What struck me most was the comical sense that actors on stage were able to transmit. I did not expect the Peking Opera to have such 'ingredient' among its many artistic components," he said.
Pennacchia was one of hundreds of Italians who came on Saturday to Brancaccio, a historic theatre in Rome well known for the educational approach of its programs, to watch the Peking Opera that kicked off a week-long event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Confucius Institutes worldwide.
The initiative, organized by the Confucius Institute at La Sapienza University in Rome, would offer various events related to Chinese culture, language, and arts throughout the city, ending up with a major happening on September 27, when the Global Confucius Institute Day would be celebrated in some 500 similar institutions around the world.
The Peking Opera, as most representative embodiment of the Chinese traditional culture, was chosen to inaugurate Rome's week of events.
"I was most curious to watch the show," Chryso Kruma, an Italian woman of Cypriot origins, told Xinhua.
"I have been living in Rome with Chinese neighbors for so many years now, yet I don't know much of their culture. This was a good chance to get to know it better," she added.
The show, performed by the Shanghai Theatre Academy, offered a selection of original plays, such as "The Goddess of Heaven Scatters Flowers," "Red Mulberry Town," and "The Monkey King wreaks Havoc in Heaven" from the classical Chinese epic novel Journey to the West.
The different types of Peking Opera characters were introduced to the audience, and people were also invited to join on stage, after or before each selected scene, to try and perform a little of the actors' singing or acrobatics, to mimic their facial expressions or reproduce their elaborate movements drawn from martial arts.
Nine-year-olds Francesco and Emma, for example, looked very proud of their own efforts after trying to mimic a combat scene of the "Crossroads" drama, where two male characters were involved in a silent fight in the dark.
"It was not easy, but I had fun in doing it," Francesco said.
"I also liked the scene with the monkey king, and the other drama where a judge discusses with a woman about the destiny of her child, who is sentenced to death. Most of all I liked all those colors," he explained.
"I liked the colorful costumes as well, and I enjoy much the story with the fairy who scatters flowers," Emma added.
However, the little girl admitted she found the peculiar tunes of Peking Opera lyrics a little strange to listen to.
Diego Facchinetti, who came all the way from the northern city of Bergamo, agreed with the younger spectator.
"Some vocal and instrumental sonorities were very strange, different to those we are used to. Yet, this added fascination to the show," Facchinetti explained to Xinhua.
"The show had a remarkable impact on me, actually. I really found it a comprehensive performance, and an amusing one. The scene with the two characters fighting in pitch dark for example was very pleasant to watch," he added.
Xinhua is China's state-run news agency.
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