Qingdao Peking Opera Company

Elite opera troupe performs in Manila
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte

The Monkey King Making Havoc in Heaven, a Beijing Opera performance,  will present its last show on Saturday, May 19th, at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater). The limited two-day engagement features the Qingdao Peking Opera Company.

"This visit of the Qingdao Peking Opera Company is part of the executive program under the China-Philippines bilateral agreement. While 2018 marks the 43rd year of our diplomatic relations, our friendship with China dates back more than 600 years when a Sultan from Mindanao sailed to China in 1417 to visit the Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. The show is a celebration of theater forms, as well as an enhancement of our cultural understanding," enthused NCCA's Rico Pable, during his message.

Established in 1950, the Qingdao Peking Opera Company (QPOC) is recognized as one of the "National Key Provincial Opera Troupes" and "National Advanced Culture Collectives" by the Ministry of Culture, People's Republic of China.

Awarded as "Shandong National Advanced Culture Collectives," the QPOC was officially ratified as "Province-level Intangible Cultural Heritage" by the People's Government of Shandong Province.

The 80-minute show follows Monkey King, Sun Wukong, as he visits the Dragon Palace to borrow armors. The Dragon King despises Wukong and tricks him to move the sea-calming needle. To his surprise, Wukong puts his magical powers to work and turns the sea-calming needle into his own weapon - the golden hopped cudgel.

The Dragon King regrets this and visits the Heaven Palace to beg the Jade Emperor's help to capture Wukong. Li Changgeng proposes a strategy to settle the situation, and deceives Wukong to the celestial stable to look after the horses. Wukong sees through the trick and creates a scene at the stable.

He returns to Mount Huago and puts up the flag 'the immortal Monkey King.' Li Changgeng goes to Mount Huago and pretends to invite Wukong to the peach banquet. Wukong arrives at the Heaven Palace, and learns from the fairy maidens that he is not on the invitation list of the peach banquet. He is furious and wrecks the Jade Pond. He feeds himself with the magic golden pills thereafter.

The Jade Emperor sends Erlang Shen to capture Wukong. Having taken the magic golden pills, Wukong's bones and muscles have become as strong as steel and is now invincible. The Jade Emperor ushers him to the Bagua burner of the Great Supreme Lord and heats him up with fire, but Wukong manages to escape from the flames.

The Heavenly Palace deploys its troops. Under the leadership of Li Jing, a battle is launched against Wukong. The wise and brave protagonist wins the battle. Surroundedby the cheers and rejoicing of his monkey subjects, Wukong sings his triumphant song and victoriously returns to his mountain.

Over the past 60 years since its founding, the QPOC has inherited and developed various schools in Peking Opera through endless efforts of artists like Yan Shaopeng, Zhang Chunqiu, Jie Yun Hong, Li Shibin, Zhang Shaolou, and Dong Chunbo, among others. In recent years, the company has been developing vigorously the "Young Talent Cultivation Strategy." It is charged with the important task of cultural exchanges with foreign countries, and constantly sends art troupe performance visits to Japan, Russia, Britain, South Korea, Norway, and other countries.

"Peking Opera is the quintessence of Chinese art. Throughout its 200-year history, it has created many firsts in Chinese drama by infusing several theater art forms. Monkey King is a masterpiece of traditional Opera and is based on the book "Journey to the West." The Monkey King can be likened to Superman in his powers.

"This is the first time that a troupe brought a full-length opera to the Philippines. Thus, enriching the mutual admiration of our peoples," intoned the cultural counsellor from the Embassy of China in the Philippines.

The QPOC is one of the elite and distinguished Peking Opera Troupes in all of China. The two-night performance is co-presented by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Ministry of Culture & Tourism of the People's Republic of China, and The Embassy of the People's Republic of China.


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