The Liyuan Theater is a famous theater that performs traditional Peking Opera in Beijing. It is jointly run by Beijing Qianmen Hotel and Peking Opera Theater since 1990. The Liyuan Theater is located in Qianmen Hotel, Xicheng District. It has won "the best night activities place" of the Beijing Tourism Forbidden Cup for seven years.
The theater is composed of three parts: the performance hall, exhibition hall and fairs hall. The performance hall is composed of a theater stage and an auditorium. The stage is 8 meters high, 12 meters wide, and 7 meters deep. On both sides, there are couplets wrote by dramatists Weng Lianhong and Liu Bingsen. There are 8 large-scale opera masks and 14 opera characters painted screens around the auditorium. Three audience areas are set with 800 seats, which are similar with the traditional old theater customs. The audience can enjoy the opera performances while taste a variety of Beijing snacks and tea. The exhibition hall displays the history and development of Peking Opera. Otherwise, audience can buy Peking Opera souvenirs, wear costumes, and outline the portrait for photography in fair hall.
The main audiences are foreign tourists and the main repertoire is opera highlights. The audience hall is set with electronic display, which displays lyrics in both English and Chinese. Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, former Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, Estonian President Leonard Meri and other celebrities have enjoyed the performance here before.
Classic opera in Liyuan Theater
Pirates of the Mesona
The Pirates of the Mesona is adapted from the Legend of the White Snake, also known as Madame White Snake. On the Emei Mountain, there were two snakes, a white snake and a green snake. They couldn’t bear the pain of practice in the mountains, so they kept the embodiment as the girl Bai Suzhen and Xiaoqing. Wandering along the West Lake, they met Xu Xian by accident. Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian fell in love and got married after many hardships. However, a monk, Fa Hai, destroyed their happy life.
One day, Xuxian went back home with a bottle of realgar wine, wanted to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival with Bai Suzhen. Bai Suzhen couldn’t refuse the drink, so she drank it. Suddenly, she turned into a white snake which shocked Xu Xian. Xu Xian was frightened and died. To save her husband’s life, Bai Suzhen went to the Kunlun Mountains in a hurry to seek for Ganoderma, guarded by the two fairy guardians. Finally, Bai Suzhen defeated two fairy guardians and got ganoderma. Afterwards, Xuxian was bring back from death.
Flooding of Jinshan Temple
The Flooding of Jinshan Temple is also a plot of the Legend of the White Snake. The monk Fa Hai from Jinshan Temple saw demon on Xu Xian’s face, so he hid him in the Jinshan Temple. Bai Suzhen and Xiaoqing came to Jinshan Temple and pleaded Fa Hai to release Xu Xian. But Fa Hai didn’t allow it. With the help of Xiaoqing, Bai Suzhen led water to Jinshan Temple to save Xu Xian. Then, Bai Suzhen transformed into a white snake and came to look for her husband. Unfortunately, Bai Suzhen failed because she was pregnant. She was too weak to defeat Fa Hai’s army. In fact, this plot is also named as "Jinshan Full of Water ".
The Crossroads, a famous repertoire of combat dramas, is a snippet of The Yang's Saga. Although not accompanied with any singing, dialogues and recitation, the combat performances in the drama expressed the content quite well, which revealed the amazing techniques of Wuchou role (one of the roles on Chinese opera stage).
The main actor Jiao Zan was exiled to Shamen Island for killing the son-in-law of a corrupt dignitary. Yang Yanzhao, the upright General, ordered Warrior Ren Tanghui to tail after and protect Jiao. When Jiao came to rest in a restaurant in the Crossroads, the owner of the restaurant mistakenly took Ren as the one sent to assassinate Jiao. So, to protect Jiao, two parties fought fiercely at night.
Hu Jia Zhuang
It’s an independent martial drama, selected from the "Heroes of the Marshes”. It can be divided into three parts: meet the enemy, catch the tiger, captured. It’s written that Zhu Jia Zhuang cooperated with Hu Jia Zhuang and fought against with Liangshanpo. Hu Sanniang, fiancée of Zhu Biao, was highly skilled in martial arts. She caught Wang Ying, whose nick name is dwarf tiger. Facing the strong opponent, Song Jiang changed the strategy. He ordered soldiers to join the battle by turns. As a result, Hu Sanniang was caught by Lin Chong. Hu Sanniang is acted by Wu Dan (a female character type versed in Chinese operas). All the difficult martial arts actions were perfectly present in the wonderful fighting Scene.