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Changing Faces


Chinese opera performers mainly have two methods of makeup: masks and facial painting. The frequent on-stage change of masks or facial makeup, without the audience noticing, is a special technique, known aschanging faces.

Changing Facesis a difficult technique in opera performance. It is considered to be stunts and only mastered after hard training. Face changing is also a special technique used to exaggerate the inner feelings of characters, portray their dispositions, set off the atmosphere and improve the effects. Facial changes expressing sudden changes in the feelings of a character are mostly done in four ways:

Blowing Dust:The actor blows black dust hidden in his palm or close to his eyes, nose or beard, so that it blows back into his face.

Manipulating Beard:Beard colors can be changed while the beard is being manipulated, from black to gray and finally to white, expressing anger or excitement.

Pulling-down Masks:The actor can pull down a mask which has been previously hidden on top of his head and which leaves his face red, green, blue or black, to demonstrate happiness, hate, anger or sadness, respectively.

Mop:The actor mops out the greasepaint, which is previously hidden in his sideburns or eyebrows, around his eyes and nose, thus change his facial appearance.

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