In America, I was so sure I was familiar with all opera had to offer. I’ve seen operas in Italian, in German, in French; before I left the states, I had just seen Le Nozze de Figaro, Gianni Schicchi, and Il Tabarro. I was so certain when going into the Sichuan Opera House that I would see the same, plot-based singing I was so used to, only to be thrown into a 360. The Sichuan Opera is a playground for the mind, a stimulation for all the senses. The sweetness of the tea, the herbal scent lingering in the air, the warmth of the cup in my hands, all leading up to the show before me. Men and women in beautiful clothes and fine silks marched around on the stage as they sang the songs of their people, acrobats tumbling every which way. A woman crafted scenery from the shadows of her hands, telling us a story of Chinese wildlife, people, and greenery from the mere tips of her fingers. A man played the erhu at top speeds and a woman sang so sweetly, leaving stars in the eyes of children and adults alike who watched on. A couple bickered jokingly, all while the husband balanced a candle on his head, making even those who did not understand the language double over in laughter and delight. Men breathed fire and magically changed faces, lighting up the house in oranges and blues, leaving the audience in awe as cheers roared from every direction.
I don’t think any foreigner will be prepared for the pure captivation the Sichuan Opera House supplies. I was so sure I knew what to expect, only to be left speechless. One of the beauties of China and studying abroad is that we never know exactly what to expect. Every day is an adventure, and every night is a new opportunity to explore the world around us. To experience and be witness to something so different, so inherently special, left me excited with the prospect that there is so much more to the world than what I know.