The Guilin Opera

Guilin Opera is popular in Guangxi Province and is one of China’s 10 major forms of opera. This kind of opera utilizes Guilin local dialect and Southwestern Mandarin. Guilin Opera originated during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) when the artform spread to Guilin from the north where it was adapted by local people. Guilin Opera focuses on shaping characters with exquisite detail and life-like performance. Although they often have military themes, most Guilin Opera performances are characterized by their singing and acting styles.

Guilin Opera is deeply related to Qi opera traditions of southern Hunan Province. In the past, artists from these two regions worked and studied together, so their theatrical traditions have similar names and singing styles. Many Guilin Opera scripts are borrowed from Beijing Opera; only 40 original scripts are performed exclusively in Guilin Opera. Most Guilin Opera shows are presented at temple fairs where actors give uninhibited, simple performances that tell historical stories. In cities, where opera tends to be a bit more sophisticated, performances often center on stories about young men and women.

Guilin Opera actor on stage during a show

Caidiao is another kind of theater in Guangxi Province that originates from singing and dancing traditions of the Guilin countryside. It is livelier and easy to follow compared with Guilin Opera. Stories in Caidio are lifelike and express the traditions of local ethnic minority groups. Actors generally speak and sing at the same time. Caidiao stories usually center around romance between men and women, or the admiration of nature. Fans and handkerchiefs are common stage props. Actors will often use these items to imitate other materials, bringing a greater sense of fantasy to the audience.

Guilin Opera musicians performing

Want to learn even more about the diverse, fascinating traditions of Chinese opera? Find out how CLI’s program options can greatly enhance your understanding of Chinese language and culture. We look forward to enjoying a night out at the opera house with you soon!

Guilin Opera Performers in full costume and makeup


Chinese Vocabulary Related to Guilin Opera:

Hànzì pīnyīn Definition
1. 中国戏曲 zhōngguó xìqǔ Chinese opera
2. 桂剧 guìjù Guangxi Opera
3. 舞台 wǔtái stage
4. 演出 yǎnchū performance
5. 表演 biǎoyǎn show
6. 演员 yǎnyuán actors
7. 歌手 gēshǒu singer
8. 戏剧 xìjù drama
9. 音乐 yīnyuè music
10. 戏服 xì fú clothing (only used for theatre)
11. 戏妆 xì zhuāng makeup (only used for theatre)
12. 音乐剧 yīnyuè jù musical theater
13. 剧院 jùyuàn theater
14. 艺术 yìshù art
15. 歌剧院 gē jùyuàn Opera house
16. 后台 hòutái backstage
17. 舞台艺术 wǔtái yìshù stage arts
18. 观众 guānzhòng audience
19. 头饰 tóushì head ornament
20. 传统乐器 chuántǒng yuèqì traditional music instrument
21. 二胡 èrhú erhu (two-stringed bowed musical instrument)
22. drum
23. 月琴 yuèqín zither
24. luó gong (musical percussion instrument)

Improve Your Chinese Pronunciation with Tongue Twisters

Learning Chinese tongue twisters (绕口令 ràokǒulìng) makes for great language practice; Learning Chinese tongue twisters with native speakers in real life situations makes it even better. In our new series, CLI’s own ZiCong 老师 ventures through the scenic park pathways and lively downtown sidewalks of Guilin city to interview passersby on some of Mandarin’s trickiest word games. Read on for the Chinese characters, pīnyīn, and English translations of each tongue twister as featured in our video series.


Chinese Characters:

三山撑四水, 四水绕三山, 三山四水春常在, 四水三山四时春。


sān shān chēng sì shuǐ, sì shuǐ rào sān shān, sān shān sì shuǐ chūn cháng zài, sì shuǐ sān shān sì shí chūn.

Literal Meaning:

Three mountains support four rivers, Four rivers twine ‘round three mountains, Three mountains and four rivers are found in spring, Four rivers and three mountains are found in spring.


Chinese Characters:

出前门,往正南, 有个面铺面冲南, 门口挂着蓝布棉门帘。 摘了它的蓝布棉门帘, 面铺面冲南, 给他挂上蓝布棉门帘, 面铺还是面冲南。


chū qián mén, wǎng zhèng nán, yǒu ge miàn pù miàn chòng nán, mén kǒu guà zhe lán bù mián mén lián。 zhāi le tā de lán bù mián mén lián, miàn pù miàn chòng nán, gěi tā guà shàng lán bù mián mén lián, miàn pù hái shì miàn chòng nán.

Literal Meaning:

Out the front door, to the south, A store face faces south On the door hangs a blue cloth curtain. Plucked its blue cloth curtain, Store face faces south Give him a blue cloth curtain to hang, Store face or face south.


Chinese Characters:

那边划来一艘船, 这边漂去一张床, 船床河中互相撞, 不知船撞床, 还是床撞船。


nà biān huá lái yì sōu chuán, zhè biān piāo qù yì zhāng chuáng, chuán chuáng hé zhōng hù xiāng zhuàng, bù zhī chuán zhuàng chuáng, hái shì chuáng zhuàng chuán.

Literal Meaning:

Over there rows a boat, Over here drifts a bed, The boat and bed collide with each other, I don’t know if the boat hit the bed, Or the bed hit the boat.

We hope that you enjoyed these tongue twisters as much as we enjoyed sharing them with you! Subscribe to the CLI YouTube channel for fresh new videos on Chinese language, culture, and lifestyle.

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Top 10 Slang Mandarin Phrases by Crazy Fresh Chinese

Jessica Beinecke, better known as Bái Jié (白洁 ) by her viewers, is an American educator, videographer, and internet personality best known for producing videos that focus on introducing English slang and American culture to Chinese viewers.


Beinecke became a language-star in China in August 2011 when one of her videos titled, Yucky Gunk, in which she talks about boogers, earwax, and eye gunk, went viral. She hasn’t looked back since, and currently curates six social media accounts in China and the U.S.

10 Slang Mandarin Phrases by Crazy Fresh Chinese

How do you say “You’re so dramatic!” in Chinese?

Have a friend that’s overreacting or being way too dramatic for no good reason? Want to tell them how you feel, but don’t know how to do so in Chinese? Watch this video and you’ll know exactly what to say to them!

How do you say “It’s not my fault!” in Chinese?

When you’re learning a new language, there’s bound to be some miscommunication and oftentimes what you end up saying is a lot different from what you had in mind. Need to explain to your Chinese friend that it wasn’t your fault? Learn how to by watching this video!

How do you say “I know what you’re thinking!” in Chinese?

Ever get the feeling you know what someone is thinking and want to let them know you know what’s on their mind? In this video, Bái Jié explains how you say, “I know what you’re thinking,” in Chinese.

How do you say “That’s messed up!” in Chinese?

Want to express your discomfort upon being faced with an undesirable situation but don’t know the best way to do so in Chinese? Allow Bái Jié to help you learn.

How do you say “I have no clue!” in Chinese?

There are times, when learning a new language, when one simply has no idea what is being said to them. This may be because what is being said is being said way too fast, or because one doesn’t have the required vocab to comprehend. We’ve all been there, and it’s immensely frustrating. How do you let the other person know you have no clue what they’re talking about in Chinese? Watch this video to find out!

What does “88” mean in Chinese?

Have you ever received a text message from a friend which says “88”? Has this left you scratching your head, wondering what this number means? In China, it’s simply another way to say, ‘Bye-bye!’

How do you say “That makes sense!” in Chinese?

Well, that really does make sense.

How do you say “It means a lot to me!” in Chinese?

It’s important to express your gratitude when someone does something sweet for you. But how do you do so in Chinese? Bái Jié shows you how!

How do you say “Bring it on!” in Chinese?

Are you a competitive person? Love accepting challenges? If so, you ought to know how to say, “Bring it on!” in Chinese. It’s a sure-shot way of impressing your Chinese friends!

How do you say “Could you do me a favor?” in Chinese?

Anyone who’s studying – or living – abroad in China knows that it’s impossible to do everything on your own. From time to time, we all need help from other people. Watch this video, and let Bái Jié teach you how to say, “Could you do me a favor?” in Chinese.

Having studied Mandarin in Beijing and Hangzhou as an undergraduate, not only is Beinecke fluent in the language but also serves as an ambassador of American culture and language to China. According to Jessica’s about page, “The 100,000 Strong Foundation is the founding partner of Crazy Fresh Chinese, focused on encouraging students across the country to both learn Mandarin and study in China.”


You can watch more of her videos and subscribe to her channel on YouTube plus follow her on Facebook.

We hope to study Mandarin in China together some day soon. Don’t forget to follow CLI on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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