How to buy Chinese opera

This stuff is hard to come by, buy it here, pointer from Bryan Caplan.  A few warnings:

1. The old joke about murdered cats is not groundless.  It takes a long time to pick up the patterns.

2. Much of the beauty is in the timbre; even an electrified live performance can mangle this, but these CDs manage OK.

3. You have no business not knowing the high culture music of history’s most dominant culture.

4. Most of all, they are fun.


This is great, as I've been wanting hear ever since I missed to opportunity to see it live in Beijing. Someone in our group had a true passion for it. But which album is best?

Naxos' Marco Polo series has some excellent examples, including revolutionary-era work. The catalog is here:

You can also sample the series free on Naxos Radio, which is here:

Select under "World Music"

Having listened to Chinese opera for much too short a time to pick up the patterns, I'd like you to justify your claim that it is fun.

I mean this seriously. What should I be looking for here? I could tell there was some kind of musical language, and that the practitioner I waas listening to was a master of it, but I couldn't tell why anyone would think it worth mastering. What was I missing here?

English painting and sculpture, Russian food, Germanic literature

One of these things is not like the others.

A literary world without Kafka, Mann, Nietzsche (readable as literature even without liking his philosophy) or Goethe would be substantially poorer, IMHO.

"I'm excusing myself on the grounds that the Chinese, in general, greatly prefer Western Opera."

This is certainly not the case either in recent history (i.e. the last 200 years) or in the present over the country as a whole. Yes, Western opera is popular in China in some quarters, but so is Japanese food in the US. That doesn't mean that Americans, in general prefer Japanese food.

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