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Peking opera with new twist thrills Canadian audience

By Phoebe Ho (Xinhua)

08:08, August 27, 2012

TORONTO, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- A Peking Opera group from China engaged its Toronto audience Friday with a newly evolved lecture-style performance.

In Toronto, the third stop of its North American tour, the Chinese National Peking Opera Company (CNPOC) attracted hundreds of locals, including Chinese Canadians, to its first interactive show-and-tell style performance in Canada.

While it was something new for the audience, CNPOC head Song Guanlin said it was a first for them, too.

"Combining performance with lecture tonight is an effective and creative way to carry on and promote Chinese culture. The activities tonight are something new for us and something unprecedented," he said.

This evolution of the age-old Chinese performance is an attempt by the group to generate interest and appeal to an international audience.

Despite the new spin on Peking Opera, the group maintained the integrity of the iconic Chinese performance, with musical and vocal performance staying true to form. But to help people better understand the origin of Peking Opera, Song delved into the history, significance and evolution of the centuries-old art. He also showcased the various elements one by one, from its music, costuming down to the way performers move, with explanations and performances.

English captions were available for non-Chinese speakers to follow the lecture. But 15-year-old Jasmine Penney said she didn't have to understand what they said to appreciate the beauty of the art. She was in awe with her first experience in Peking Opera despite not understanding the language.

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