Beijing Opera performance

My brothers wife Sandy Phan-Gillis helped to bring the Beijing Opera to town for a Chinese New Years Eve performance. Linda and I were invited to attend and although much of the time we couldn't understand the language we found that some of the performace didn't need words. Below is an exerpt of the article in the Houston Chronicle. Jan. 23, 2006, 5:22AM Chinese, Vietnamese greet new year with celebrations Fort Bend, Houston host holiday events By ZEN T. C. ZHENG Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle It is the Year of the Dog, but Monkey King doesn't want the celebratory fun to belong just to the canine family. As cymbals, gongs, wooden clappers and a variety of traditional Chinese instruments are sounded at the Stafford Centre Jan. 28, the primate will jump on the stage in a role as a rebel to make quite a scene, his unique way to send out New Year cheers to Houston. The classic Beijing opera, The Adventure of the Monkey King, features artists from China and is billed as a production filled with acrobatic and musical excitement. "Traditional opera performance has always been a big part of the Lunar New Year celebration in Asia. This is the first time ever that a professional Beijing opera troupe is in Houston to join the local Asian-American community to mark this most important time of the year," said Sandy Phan-Gillis, president of the U.S.-China Federal Association of Business Councils, which is sponsoring the cultural night with several other local Chinese-American organizations. In addition to Beijing operas, also known as Peking operas, the event also features Chinese traditional instrumental music and dances and a number of local talents. The Beijing Opera Night will begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Stafford Centre, 10505 Cash Road in Stafford. For tickets, call 713-988-1181 or 281-498-4310. The occasion is marked by the Vietnamese, who call it Tet. Other ethnic groups, including the Thais, Cambodians, Laotians and Burmese, celebrate Lunar New Year in April. On the lunar calendar, each year is named after an animal or a mystical beast, as a zodiac sign, with 12 animals, or 12 years, completing a cycle. This year, the Year of the Dog starts on Jan. 29 for the Chinese and Vietnamese. While many Asian-American organizations, churches and temples throughout Houston hold celebrations for their members, several main events are being planned to draw large crowds of participants of both the Asian and non-Asian communities. In addition to showcasing the Monkey King opera, the Stafford Centre also will feature Chinese artists performing excerpts from several Beijing operatic standards based on historical stories or folk legends. Calling Beijing opera a "national treasure" of China, Phan-Gillis said Chinese New Year events promote the traditional culture, and it's fitting to highlight it with this unique art. With a 200-year history, Beijing opera is regarded as the highest expression of the traditional Chinese culture, according to Phan-Gillis. It features face-painting, stylized moves and melodies, literary monologues and dialogues, acrobatic display and mime. Alief resident Y.S. Tay said he missed the tradition of going to a Beijing opera during the Lunar New Year in Houston and is looking forward to the performance. "It's very rare to see an authentic Beijing opera performance in Houston, especially during the New Year," said the 72-year-old, self-described Beijing opera buff. "I'm excited to know that authentic, professional-class Chinese national operas are coming to town." Another Chinese New Year performance also is set for the Stafford Centre stage at 8:30 p.m. Feb. 19. For tickets, call 713-569-6543 or 713-777-3359. The "Myths and Legends" show will present traditional and contemporary cultural performances organized by the New Tang Dynasty Television, a New York-based organization which is opening a market in Houston.

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