While many of Beijing’s opera houses have disappeared over the years – replaced with modern replicas or torn down to make way for new developments – Peking opera still thrives in a handful of traditional venues. If you’re on the look out for an authentic Peking opera, head over to one of these opera houses.
Temple Theatre Beijing Opera House（Zhengyici Xilou, 正乙禧戏楼）
With a spectacular interior, the theatre lays claim to being one of the oldest and best-preserved wooden buildings in Beijing. Built in 1667 as an ancestral shrine, it later expanded into a playhouse where masters of Peking opera such as Mei Lanfang regularly held court. The theatre is famous for Peking opera and Kunqu (昆曲), a form of opera that originated from Jiangsu province, as well as a variety of other performing arts, including avant-garde dance. The theatre is only open during performance times for ticket holders.
Add: 220 Qianmen Xi Heyan, Xuanwu District
Opening Hours: Only during performance times
Tel: 0086 010 8315 1650
Huguang Guild Hall（Huguang Huiguan, 湖广会馆）
Huguang Guild Hall (湖广会馆) was built in 1807 and was formerly home to high-ranking officials in the Qing Dynasty and featured Peking opera performances from various renowned performers. It was restored and reopened in May 1996 and has since then served as a museum and theatre, open to the general public.
Huguang Guild Hall offers evening performances daily and occasional afternoon performances – depending on the show. Performance ticket prices vary from 20-200RMB and museum entrance costs 10RMB.
Add: 3 Hufang Road, Xicheng Disctrict
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 17:00, 18:30 – 22:00
Tel: 0086 010 6351 8284
Mei Lanfang Grand Theatre（梅兰芳大剧院）
This building on the west side of the city covers three storeys and has 1,035 seats to accommodate the huge audiences expected to fill it.
The modern theatre was built specifically for Jingju and houses a bronze sculpture of Mei Lanfang in the centre of the lobby.
Elsewhere is a sculpture of Emperor Tang Minghuang, the so-called ‘father of Chinese Opera’, who organised and trained the first opera troupes.
Performers used to pray to the sculpture for good luck before stepping on stage. Also in the theatre is a painting of Guan Yu, the Martial Art God played in Jingju. Guan Yu represents bravery, honesty, sincerity and filial piety; all performers who play this character traditionally bathe before the show as a sign of respect.
Add: 32 Pinganlixi Dajie, Xicheng District
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun
Tel: 0086 010 5833 1288
Liyuan Theatre is a traditional Beijing Opera venue showing classic Peking Opera performances. Within the long history of Peking opera, the performance at the Liyuan Theatre is the most classic introduction to the performing art. The repertoire is an interesting combination of delightful humour and old Beijing culture. All performed with ambitious intricacy and style. Here you will find a popular introduction to Chinese Opera.
Add: 1/F Qianmen Hotel, 175 Yongan Road, Xuanwu Distrct
Opening Hours: 19:30 – 20:50 daily
Tel: 0086 010 6301 6688
Chang’an Grand Theatre（长安大戏院）
The Chang’an Grand Theatre, located on East Chang’an Avenue, is a theatre in Beijing that specializes in Peking Opera performances. Opened in 1996, the Chang’an Grand Theatre is a modern Peking Opera theatre which displays modern facilities such as advanced highlights, multi-functional stage and computer controlled sound and light systems. In its interior, it features a Ming Dynasty design and traditional Peking Opera theatre decorations. It is one of Beijing’s most popular Peking Opera theatres, and because of its modern design, it is regarded as one of the best Peking Opera theatres for acoustics. Unlike many other opera theatres, it features English subtitles above the stage. The theatre’s second floor also contains a museum which exhibits Peking Opera costumes, make-up and artifacts.
Add: No.7 Jianguomennei Street, Dongcheng District
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 21:30
Tel: 0086 010 6510 1308