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 Featured Title
Chinese Opera
Images and Stories
Wang-Ngai Siu   Peter Lovrick  

$77.00 Hardcover
Release Date: 2/12/1997
ISBN: 9780774805926    

250 Pages

World rights except United States


About the Book

Shortlisted, 1998 George Freedley Memorial Award, Theatre Library Association
Shortlisted, 1997 Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, Pacific Rim Voices Project

Chinese Opera looks at Chinese society through an exciting series of photographs of operatic performances from many regions of the country. The book introduces the reader to this unique theatrical form and tells the traditional stories that are its narrative foundation. Siu Wang-Ngai's extraordinary images, taken in natural light during performances, lovingly reveal the visual excitement of Chinese opera and point to the differences in costuming and presentation that distinguish each regional style and character type.

Through Peter Lovrick's engaging text, Chinese Opera provides a brief anecdotal history of the development of Chinese opera and introduces a language of theatrical convention entirely new to the Westerner. It also identifies the hallmarks of the dozen or so regional opera styles found in this collection. As well, the book arranges the stories in a rough chain of being, from heaven, through the whole social structure on earth from emperor to outlaw, to ghosts in the nether world, offering a revealing view of Chinese social tradition and experience.

Chinese opera has a rich repertoire drawn from history, legends, folk tales, and classic novels. Chinese Opera opens a door onto the wealth of Chinese traditional drama in a way that will interest drama aficionados, admirers of theatrical photography, students of Chinese drama, those interested in the culture of China, and everyone who enjoys a lively story. Siu Wang-Ngai's photographic record of opera performances makes these stories come alive.

About the Author(s)

Siu Wang-Ngai is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britian and Chair of the Federation of Hong Kong-Macau Photographic Association. He lives in Hong Kong, where he practices law.

Peter Lovrick has taught the History of Performing Arts in China at the University of Toronto's East Asian Studies department for the past several years. He also teaches full time at George Brown College's English and Liberal Studies Department.

Table of Contents


1. The Dramatic Tradition
2. China's Regional Operas
3. Conventions
4. Heavenly Beings
5. Emperors And Their Ladies
6. Generals And Warriors
7. Scholars And Officials
8. Wealthy Families
9. Common Folk: Those Who Are Ruled
10. Religious
11. Outlaws
12. Ghosts
13. A Final Word

A. English Guide to Photographs
B. Chinese Guide To Photgraphs

Selected Bibliography


The photographs ... are extraordinary theatrical records by any standards.... Siu has managed to capture the drama, colour and humanity of this theatre form. ... a remarkable book on Chinese opera... as well as being interesting to the converted, will also be an invaluable aide to newcomers to the theatre form ... laudably-straightforward language.

- The Review (Hong Kong), Sept. 6, 1997

Lovrick and Hong Kong-based photographer Siu Wang Ngai effectively lift the curtain on the mysteries of this ancient and venerable artform in a lavishly-produced overview of its many conventions and styles.

- Vancouver Sun

This is the ideal coffee-table book; gorgeous pictures with pithy text, providing an insight into not only the art, but the history, folklore and traditions of China.

- Alexandra Eadie, Globe & Mail

Sample Chapter

A sample chapter of this title is not available at this time. For further information, please email

Related Topics

Asian Studies

Other Ways To Order

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Toronto, Ontario
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Ordering information for customers outside Canada

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