Sheng (Chinese opera)

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Example of a Wusheng (martial gentleman) character.

The Sheng (Chinese: ; pinyin: Shēng; literally: "scholar") is the main male role in Chinese opera. This role has numerous subtypes. The laosheng is a dignified older role. These characters have a gentle and cultivated disposition and wear sensible costumes. One type of laosheng role is the hongsheng, a red-faced older male. The only two hongsheng roles are Guan Gong, the Chinese god of sworn brotherhood, loyalty and righteousness, and Zhao Kuang-yin, the first Song Dynasty emperor. Young male characters are known as xiaosheng. These characters sing in a high, shrill voice with occasional breaks to represent the voice changing period of adolescence. Depending on the character's rank in society, the costume of the xiaosheng may be either elaborate or simple.[1] On-stage, xiaosheng actors are often involved with beautiful women by virtue of the handsome and young image they project.[2] The wusheng is a martial character for roles involving combat. They are highly trained in acrobatics, and have a natural voice when singing.[1] Troupes will always have a laosheng actor. A xiaosheng actor may also be added to play roles fitting to his age. In addition to these main Sheng, the troupe will also have a secondary laosheng.[3]


  1. ^ a b Unknown Author (2000). "Peking Opera". It's China Network - TYFO.COM. Archived from the original on June 7, 2007.
  2. ^ Chengbei, Xu (2006). Afternoon Tea at the Beijing Opera. Long River Press. p. 163. ISBN 978-1-59265-057-6.
  3. ^ Wichmann, Elizabeth. Listening to Theatre: The Aural Dimension of Beijing Opera. University of Hawaii Press. p. 7–8.