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Spitting Fire is a distinctive skill of Sichuan Opera. It is performed in the Legend of White Snake, a key story that is a cornerstone of Sichuan Opera.

Location: Chengdu, Sichuan province, China

Sichuan opera is a type of Chinese opera originating in China’s Sichuan province around 1700.Today’s Sichuan opera is a relatively recent synthesis of 5 historic melodic styles. Regionally Chengdu remains to be the main home of Sichuan opera, while other influential locales include Chongqing, Guizhou, Yunnan, Hubei and Taiwan.

Initially there were 5 distinct opera styles. The history of each style varies greatly.

At least one of the Chinese operatic styles began as early as the Three Kingdoms period with some form of Canjun opera. During the Tang dynasty, a band of five came about in Chengdu. In the Ming dynasty, artists performed the skill in Jinling (modern-day Nanjing). During the reign of Yongzheng and Qianlong emperor in the Qing dynasty, in the Huabu areas, Kunqu, Yiyang, Bangzi and Pihuang melody merged with local languages, folk customs, ditties, yang-kos and Lantern theatre (Dengdiao) in Sichuan.

During the early 20th century, a revival movement began to reform the art. The best known reformer was Kang Zhilin, who led the Sanqinq (Three Celebrations) Company. This company was one of the most notable opera troupes, established in 1912, and combined the 5 styles into a single opera on the same stage. Each style retained its own music. One of the classic skills devised by Kang Zhilin included a high kick that leaves a “third eye” in the middle of the forehead. This has remained one of Sichuan opera’s trademark moves.

During the Cultural Revolution, the art form suffered somewhat. But it continued to flourish afterwards, especially since the 1978 Chinese economic reform.

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City: Chengdu
State: Sichuan Province
Country: China
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