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Sichuan Opera Yue Lai Tea House
川剧 / 悦来茶园
8am - 7pm, 8am - 2am(Sat.)
Yongxing Ln., Jinjiang District (Behind Wangfujing Shopping Center)
028 8611 9913
028 8444 1048
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Mark Hiew (more chengdu)
One of the most standard tourist attractions in Chengdu is Sichuanese opera or “chuanju.” It’s fire-breathing, face-changing theater of photogenic spectacle actively promoted by tourism agencies and hostels alike. But few actual Chengdu residents regularly, if ever, get out to such performances for a number of reasons. Price tends to be a major factor, with big shows regularly running RMB150 or more per performance. However, at Yue Lai Teahouse, one of Chengdu’s best bargain attractions, you can catch a lively rendition of the Sichuanese classical art form for a fraction of the price.

Located centrally from Chunxi Road, just behind the Wangfujing Shopping Center, Yue Lai is a well-preserved traditional teahouse with a small manmade lake. Every Saturday at 2:00 p.m., locals flock for the long-standing weekly show. It sits next to the Jiujiang Theater, which hosts more expensive performances and various exhibits. Though you won’t see any fire-spitting or face-changing to speak of at Yue Lai, you will be treated to three hours of authentic theater, with a boisterous orchestra (mostly percussion) and a range of elaborately costumed characters retelling stories (in local dialect) that range as far back as the Three Kingdoms Period.

The performance, full of syncopated rhythms, ear-piercing falsetto and movements that leap from subtle birdlike head twitches to theatrical leaps, is dynamic enough to sustain interest even for those unfamiliar with the genre. For those who read Chinese, electronic subtitles help you to comprehend the scenes, each of which last approximately 40 minutes. Given the current youth generation’s interest in classical opera, the majority of the audience is well into retirement. But don’t let the occasional snoozer fool you though. Some are dedicated, weekly patrons whose banter adds greatly to the character of this aged, yet thoroughly charming, two-story building. So make no excuses, here’s your chance to get a taste of affordable local opera at its most authentic!

Sichuan Opera  Yue Lai Tea House
Sichuan Opera  Yue Lai Tea House Sichuan Opera  Yue Lai Tea House Sichuan Opera  Yue Lai Tea House