2 classic Peking Opera shows hit UK

Ten years after their last visit to the UK, the China National Peking Opera Company will return to the UK this November, for some very special performances of "Warrior Women of Yang" and "Farewell My Concubine," in Liverpool (November 13-15) and London (November 19-22).

The China National Peking Opera Company are one of China's most highly acclaimed and dynamic Opera companies, and these shows will give audiences in the UK a rare chance to immerse themselves in the highly unique art of Peking Opera, which has a history extending back to the 18th Century in Chinese culture, and to see two of the company's legendary stars, Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu.

Combining dance, mime, music, theatre, stunning costumes and makeup, and highly choreographed action sequences, Peking Opera requires immense dedication from the performers, who start training from an early age. Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and numerous other famous film stars also attended Peking Opera school in their youth, which is where the rigorous training they went through prepared them for their martial-arts action roles later in life.

The company will perform two different classic stories that are full of breathtaking acrobatic choreography, music and colourful spectacle: "Warrior Women of Yang" and "Farewell My Concubine." "Warrior Women of Yang" features a cast of over fifty in a story of grief, courage, patriotism and family loyalty. It is based on a collection of Chinese folklore, plays and novels about a military family of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), during which time the Song court and neighboring states were engaged in battle. The Yang family heroically guard the border until they are betrayed by a traitorous politician, and most of the Yang men are wiped out by the invaders. The Yang women, who have been trained in martial-arts from a young age, take the men's place in an effort to drive the invaders back. This story has also been adapted into numerous films, perhaps most spectacularly in the Shaw Brothers classic "The Fourteen Amazons" (1972).

"Farewell My Concubine" is a famous classic opera, and this will be its full-length European premiere. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking tale of political unrest, love, sacrifice and honour. Chen Kaige's classic movie "Farewell My Concubine" (1993) features scenes from this opera being performed by the movie's two main characters.

Both shows will be performed in Mandarin with English subtitles. The two shows will play in Liverpool from November 13-15 at Echo Arena, before moving to London's Sadler's Wells from November 19-22.