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Location: The Belvedere of Pleasant Sounds (Changyin ge), The Hall for Viewing Opera (Yueshi lou)
The Belvedere of Pleasant Sounds (Changyin ge) and the Hall for Viewing Opera (Yueshi lou) served as the theatre of the Qing imperial palace. The spaces have now been converted into the Gallery of Qing Imperial Opera. This showcase presents all aspects of the imperial theatre.
The elevated outdoor opera stage bears a plaque that translates as “Belvedere of Pleasant Sounds” (Changyin ge). This elaborate stage stands in a serene courtyard that is located to the northeast of the Palace of Tranquil Longevity (Ningshou gong, which now houses part of the Treasure Gallery). The belvedere is carefully designed and lavishly ornamented. Additionally, the stage has installments that enabled performers to spectacularly descend upon the stage or rise from below.
Traditional Chinese operas, such as Peking Opera, were frequently performed on this three-storey stage for the imperial family during the late-nineteenth century. Notably, Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) - who ruled the empire in lieu of the young Tongzhi Emperor (r. 1862-1874) and the Guangxu Emperor (r. 1875-1908) - was a keen lover of opera and enjoyed performances in this palatial venue. Visitors may recognize the striking resemblance of this theatre to the stage in the Summer Palace’s Garden of Virtue and Harmony (Dehe yuan), which was modeled after the theatre in the Forbidden City and frequented by the empress dowager.
The masters of the Forbidden City used to enjoy opera performances from the two-storey windowed hall opposite the belvedere. This structure is known as the Hall for Viewing Opera (Yueshi lou). Now it is an exhibition gallery for displaying various features of bygone imperial theatrical performances. Music, scripts, stage property, and costumes are beautifully featured in this dramatic exhibit.