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Peking Opera company holds unboxing ceremony to kick off new year

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Photo courtesy of CNA
Photo courtesy of CNA
Photo courtesy of CNA
Photo courtesy of CNA
Photo courtesy of CNA
Photo courtesy of CNA

Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) GuoGuang Opera Company, a national Peking Opera troupe, held its annual unboxing ceremony in Taipei on Thursday to welcome the Lunar New Year and pray for blessings.

The ceremony kicked off at Taiwan Traditional Theatre Center with the opening of a costume trunk to symbolize the start of the new year.

The trunk, with some colorful costumes inside, had been sealed on Jan. 21, three days before Lunar New Year's Eve to signify the end of the year.

After it was opened Thursday, members of the opera company performed some acrobatics in front of a statue of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, also known as Emperor Ming of the imperial Tang Dynasty of China (618-907).

The series of front and back flips, leg splits, and martial arts displays are believed to ward off evil and bring good luck.

The performers also tossed coins and chocolates in gold wrappers to the audience of about 200 people to symbolize sharing good fortune.

After the performance, the 122 members of the troupe assembled in groups that took turns to pay tribute to Emperor Xuanzong of Tang and to pray for blessings and an auspicious new year.

The emperor is venerated by the GuoGuang Opera because of his reported love for opera and music, according to Wang An-chi, the company's artistic director and the chair of National Taiwan University's Department of Drama and Theatre.

"During his lifetime, the emperor very much loved opera and music," she told CNA. "He loved opera and music so much that he established a theater in his palace so he could watch performances every day."

Established in 1995, the GuoGuang Opera Company was formed by three Peking opera troupes in Taiwan's Army, Navy and Air Force and was part of the Ministry of Education's portfolio before it was moved to the Ministry of Culture in 2008.

"Peking opera was very popular in those times, so the Army, Navy, and Air Force all had their own opera troupes, but with the introduction of television in the 1960s, the opera's popularity began to fade," Wang said. "It was then redefined as a cultural asset and the GuoGuang Opera Company was formed."

The opera company will start the new year with three shows, on Feb. 28, Feb. 29 and March 1.

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