Just to give you an idea of how culturally significant opera may be here, back when I took Chinese class, we learned how to say "Beijing opera" before we learned how to say, "I need water."
One of the last stops of the 3-day BOCOG tour (which, by the way, was an awesome 3 days!) our tour guide, Arthur, took us to an opera about a love between an army general and an Imperial princess. And how his 5 best friends meddle, and how her brother wants to kill him. And there was a crazy wise man. And an old mother who was obsessed with marrying off her daughter. THE BEST PART, though, was that I luckily drew VIP VIP tickets! Out of 300 students, only a handful (I'd say about a dozen) of us got to sit in the balcony. We had a great view of the stage, plus we sat in some cushy seats, as opposed to wooden chairs that the rest of the suckers--I mean, students--had to sit. Heh. :)
In my VIP seat, I sat next to my friend from Iowa, Lini Ge. We had tea and four cakes, including moon cake. Moon cake is one of my favorite Chinese treats, traditionally served around the lunar festival in autumn. It's a rather hard cake filled with sweet bean paste. It's wonderful. :)
The second best thing about the opera: the princess's maids sounded like...are you ready for this...Ferbies. Do you remember ferbies from the late 1990s? They're little robotic dog-like creatures that kind of go, "rarrrararara" in a high pitched voice. over. And Over. And over. Again.
The third best thing about the opera (and I'm not quite sure that this shouldn't be the number 1 best thing) was the costuming. The costumes were exquisite--bold colored (yellow, reds, blues) robes with beaded collars, 4-inch soled shoes, bright white make up, long and dark braided hair, my gosh. It was gorgeous.
I now know why the Chinese value their opera they way they do.
Well, sure I hope this post saves! The internet connection here really lacks something to be desired....