31 January 2008

Peking Opera vs. Monty Python


So our intrepid group of four had been warned that the art form known as the Peking* Opera might involve an acquired taste. We expected screechy sounds and general cacophony. But what we got was something close to wonderful. The costumes were elaborate and colorful, the stories relatively easy to follow, and the singing, well, it was different. I'm not sure I could have handled a full three hours, but I can honestly say our ninety minute exposure was enjoyable. I would go again if given the chance.

An added bonus is that I finally understand where the "Knights Who Say Ni" skit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail comes from. I don't know if that movie still influences the youth of today as much as it did my formative years (I was not alone in my ability to recite the entire movie in junior high school), but I did used to ponder where in the hell they came up with some of the skit ideas. After our night at the opera, there can be no more doubt. Now excuse me while I go cut down the mightiest tree in the forest with a herring.


*Pedantic Information Section
Although most anglophone people refer to the Chinese capital as Beijing, some institutions retain the name "Peking." The difference is one of dialect. Beijing is the name of the city in Mandarin, and Peking is the same name in Cantonese. Most foreigners were exposed to the Cantonese-speaking south originally (think Hong Kong or Mac√£o), and when the foreigners asked "where is your capital" the locals replied in their dialect: "Peking." Now you know the rest of the story...

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