10 Must-See Beijing Opera Shows for Culture Lovers
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. The Legend of White Snake
  2. Farewell My Concubine
  3. The Drunkard Pavilion
  4. The Red Maiden
  5. The Phoenix Returns Home
  6. The Crossroads
  7. A Dream of Red Mansions
  8. The Peacock Feather Fan
  9. The Broken Bridge
  10. The Jade Bracelet

If you're a culture lover, there's nothing quite like the magic of Beijing's Peking Opera performances. With their unique blend of music, dance, and storytelling, they transport you to a world of drama, romance, and adventure. So, buckle up, folks! We're about to explore 10 must-see performances that will give you a taste of this ancient Chinese theatrical tradition.

The Legend of White Snake

First on our list is the mesmerizing "The Legend of White Snake". This is definitely one of Beijing's Peking Opera performances you don't want to miss. Why, you ask? Well, it's a tale of true love, sacrifice, and transformation that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Here's a quick rundown:

  • The Story: The plot revolves around a heroic white snake spirit who transforms into a beautiful woman, Bai Suzhen. She falls in love with a mortal man, Xu Xian. Despite the many hurdles they face, their love for each other never wavers.
  • The Performance: What makes this opera phenomenal is the stunning blend of music, acrobatics, and acting. The performers' expert use of symbolic gestures and movements brings the story to life in a way that words alone can't capture.
  • The Significance: This opera isn't just a love story. It's a reflection of the values and beliefs of ancient Chinese society. It teaches us about the power of love, the importance of perseverance, and the consequences of meddling with the natural order of things.

So, if you're ready to dive into the heart-stirring world of Beijing's Peking Opera performances, "The Legend of White Snake" is a great place to start. It's a classic that continues to captivate audiences, young and old, with its timeless tale and breathtaking performances.

Farewell My Concubine

Next up on our tour of Beijing's Peking Opera performances is "Farewell My Concubine", a riveting story of loyalty, love, and sacrifice. It's a show that's sure to leave an indelible mark on your heart, so let's dive right in!

Here’s what makes it special:

  • The Story: The opera tells the tragic tale of Xiang Yu, a general who, faced with defeat and betrayal, chooses to end his life. His loyal concubine, Yu Ji, decides to join him in death, showcasing a deep and profound love that transcends life itself.
  • The Performance: What sets "Farewell My Concubine" apart is the emotional depth of the performances. From the stirring music to the nuanced acting, every element works together to create a poignant portrayal of love and sacrifice. The climactic dance of Yu Ji, as she bids her final farewell, is a scene that will stay with you long after the curtain falls.
  • The Significance: "Farewell My Concubine" offers a glimpse into the values of honor, loyalty, and love in traditional Chinese culture. It's a timeless reminder of the sacrifices people are willing to make for those they love.

So, whether you're a seasoned fan of Beijing's Peking Opera performances or a newcomer to this ancient art form, "Farewell My Concubine" is a must-see. It's a performance that transcends the stage and touches the heart, leaving you with a deeper understanding of the human capacity for love and sacrifice.

The Drunkard Pavilion

As we continue our journey through Beijing's Peking Opera performances, we come to "The Drunkard Pavilion". It is a captivating show that masterfully blends comedy and drama, leaving you both entertained and enlightened. So, let's unravel the magic of "The Drunkard Pavilion".

Here's what you'll find fascinating:

  • The Plot: A light-hearted comedy, "The Drunkard Pavilion" centers on a scholar who accidentally falls into a drunken stupor at a pavilion. The humorous antics that ensue from his intoxication create a lively and engaging storyline.
  • The Performances: The highlight of this performance is undoubtedly the comedic timing. The actors' ability to express humor through their exaggerated facial expressions and body language is a testament to their skill and talent. The music, with its cheerful and playful tunes, adds to the overall jovial atmosphere.
  • The Impact: Amidst the comedy, "The Drunkard Pavilion" subtly explores themes of societal expectations and personal freedom. It encourages you to reflect on the joy of living life on your own terms.

Indeed, "The Drunkard Pavilion" is a unique addition to Beijing's Peking Opera performances. It's a show that not only tickles your funny bone but also provokes thoughtful reflection. So, don't miss out on this exciting blend of laughter and wisdom!

The Red Maiden

Next on our list of must-see Beijing's Peking Opera performances is "The Red Maiden". This gripping tale is a feast for the senses and a riveting exploration of love and sacrifice. So, let's get to know more about "The Red Maiden".

Here's why you'll love it:

  • The Plot: "The Red Maiden" tells the heart-rending story of a young woman's selfless love and her ultimate sacrifice. The narrative is a roller coaster of emotions that will tug at your heartstrings.
  • The Performances: The portrayal of the Red Maiden is compelling and poignant. The actors brilliantly convey the intensity of emotions, making you feel every bit of the heartache and triumph. The music, with its evocative melodies, amplifies the emotional depth of the play.
  • The Impact: "The Red Maiden" leaves an indelible impact on its audience. It invites you to ponder over the profound themes of love, sacrifice, and the strength of the human spirit.

With its captivating plot, moving performances, and thought-provoking themes, "The Red Maiden" truly is a gem in the realm of Beijing's Peking Opera performances. A word of advice: keep a box of tissues handy. You might need it!

The Phoenix Returns Home

Let's move on to another remarkable show in our guide to Beijing's Peking Opera performances. "The Phoenix Returns Home" is a vibrant and enchanting performance that weaves a tale of love, mystery, and revelation. Let's dive into the magical world of "The Phoenix Returns Home".

Here's why it's worth your time:

  • The narrative: "The Phoenix Returns Home" spins an intriguing story of a young woman who, despite facing numerous adversities, courageously finds her way back home. The tale is both exciting and inspiring, making for a compelling watch.
  • The performances: This opera showcases spectacular performances that breathe life into the characters. The actors' remarkable ability to convey complex emotions is sure to keep you hooked. Not to mention the music, which beautifully complements the performances, enhancing the overall viewing experience.
  • The experience: "The Phoenix Returns Home" offers more than just entertainment. It's an immersive experience that allows you to explore the rich cultural heritage of Beijing's Peking Opera. The stunning costumes, the elaborate makeup, and the exquisite stage design—all contribute to making this show an unforgettable spectacle.

In conclusion, "The Phoenix Returns Home" stands out as a must-see among Beijing's Peking Opera performances. Its compelling narrative, stellar performances, and rich cultural experience make it a true masterpiece. So, are you ready for a captivating journey with The Phoenix?

The Crossroads

Next on our list of must-see Beijing's Peking Opera performances is the captivating "The Crossroads". This performance takes you on an emotional roller coaster through the intersecting lives of its characters. Let's delve into what makes "The Crossroads" a standout act.

Here are some highlights worth noting:

  • The plot: "The Crossroads" presents a gripping tale about the choices we make and their consequences. It beautifully captures the essence of human nature and the intricate web of relationships, making it relatable for everyone.
  • The performances: "The Crossroads" brings together some of the finest talents in Beijing's Peking Opera. The performers' skillful interpretation of their characters, combined with their expressive vocals, brings the story to life. The performance is a testament to the incredible artistry that defines Beijing's Peking Opera.
  • The cultural insight: Watching "The Crossroads" is like taking a deep dive into Chinese culture. The performance is a blend of music, dance, and drama — the pillars of Beijing's Peking Opera. The elaborate costumes and stage design add an extra layer of authenticity, making it a cultural feast.

So, "The Crossroads" isn't just a show—it's an exploration of human emotions, a showcase of performing arts, and a cultural immersion that gives you a deeper understanding of Beijing's Peking Opera. Are you ready to experience this emotional labyrinth at the crossroads?

A Dream of Red Mansions

Stepping into the world of Beijing's Peking Opera performances, you'd be remiss not to experience "A Dream of Red Mansions". This show is a beautiful adaptation of one of China's four great classical novels, brought to life on stage. Let's dive into the distinctive aspects of this performance.

Here's what makes "A Dream of Red Mansions" a must-see:

  • The story: "A Dream of Red Mansions" is a love story set against the backdrop of a declining noble family in the Qing Dynasty. This intricate narrative is a captivating blend of romance, tragedy, and social critique, making it a thought-provoking performance.
  • The acting: One of the key highlights of "A Dream of Red Mansions" is the stellar acting. The performers embody their characters with such precision and emotion that you'll feel like you're part of the story. It's a testament to the talent that thrives in Beijing's Peking Opera scene.
  • The cultural experience: "A Dream of Red Mansions" is not just a play—it's a journey into the heart of Chinese literature, history, and society. The grandeur of the costumes, the traditional music, the expressive dance and the dramatic storytelling all come together to create an unforgettable cultural experience.

So, "A Dream of Red Mansions" isn't just a performance—it's a window into China's rich cultural and literary tradition, all delivered through the riveting art of Beijing's Peking Opera. Are you ready to step into the world of Chinese classic literature?

The Peacock Feather Fan

Next on our list of must-see Beijing's Peking Opera performances is "The Peacock Feather Fan". This performance is a delightful spectacle that's sure to leave an impression. Let's take a closer look at its unique features.

What sets "The Peacock Feather Fan" apart? Here are some key points:

  • The plot: "The Peacock Feather Fan" is a historical drama about a patriotic general who receives a peacock feather fan from the emperor as a symbol of trust. However, as events unfold, the fan becomes a catalyst for a series of misunderstandings and tragic events. This story of loyalty, betrayal, and redemption will keep you on the edge of your seat.
  • The performances: The performers in "The Peacock Feather Fan" are masters of their craft. Their precise movements, emotive expressions, and powerful vocals bring this historical drama to life in a way that's both moving and mesmerizing.
  • The cultural immersion: Through its stunning costumes, traditional music, and intricate dance routines, "The Peacock Feather Fan" offers a deep dive into Chinese history and culture. It's a feast for the senses that educates as much as it entertains.

"The Peacock Feather Fan" is more than just a play—it's an exploration of China's past, presented through the vibrant medium of Beijing's Peking Opera. Ready to take a trip back in time?

The Broken Bridge

When it comes to Beijing's Peking Opera performances, "The Broken Bridge" is a standout. This opera is like a beautifully woven tapestry of emotions, culture, and storytelling. Let's delve deeper.

Here are some reasons why "The Broken Bridge" is a must-see:

  • The story: Inspired by a classic Chinese legend, "The Broken Bridge" tells a tale of love and loss between a celestial being and a human. The broken bridge in the story symbolizes the divide between their two worlds. It's a poignant narrative that tugs at the heartstrings.
  • The performances: The actors in "The Broken Bridge" truly bring their characters to life. Their emotive facial expressions, combined with their powerful vocal performances and graceful movements, create a captivating atmosphere that transports you right into the story.
  • The cultural insights: Watching "The Broken Bridge" is like taking a step back in time. The traditional costumes, music, and dance routines offer a glimpse into China's rich heritage. It's a cultural experience that's as enlightening as it is entertaining.

So, are you prepared for an emotional roller coaster ride with "The Broken Bridge"? This Beijing's Peking Opera performance is sure to leave a lasting impression.

The Jade Bracelet

Among Beijing's Peking Opera performances, "The Jade Bracelet" holds a unique place. This performance is a treasure trove of drama, romance, and cultural insights. Let's jump right in and see what makes it special.

Here's why you should add "The Jade Bracelet" to your must-see list:

  • The plot: "The Jade Bracelet" is a riveting tale of a young girl who loses a precious jade bracelet given by her lover. The search for the bracelet takes the audience through a roller coaster ride of emotions. It’s not just a story, but a journey through human feelings and relationships.
  • The acting: The performances in "The Jade Bracelet" are nothing short of mesmerizing. The actors' command over their body language, vocal expressions, and emotive performances keeps you hooked from start to finish. You can't help but become a part of their world.
  • The cultural immersion: "The Jade Bracelet" is not just a feast for the senses, but also a cultural immersion. The elaborate costumes, enchanting music, and traditional dance routines offer insights into Beijing's vibrant culture and history.

Ready to embark on an unforgettable journey with "The Jade Bracelet"? This Beijing's Peking Opera performance will leave you with memories that last a lifetime.

If you enjoyed learning about the must-see Beijing Opera shows and want to continue exploring traditional art forms, consider checking out the workshop 'Classical Painting in the Modern Day' by Eric Drummond. This workshop will delve into the world of classical painting and its relevance in today's art scene, offering a fascinating perspective on the intersection of tradition and modernity.