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Beijing Opera will play at Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE - Lion dancers, a green dragon, a white tiger and a tiny monkey coming out of a stone are just part of what's in store for the public Friday as the Beijing Opera, in cooperation with local actors, rehearses scenes for its coming performance of "The Monkey King."

Opera performers are visiting from China as part of Jacksonville's Chinese New Year Celebration Saturday, Feb. 16, and will perform the opera four times as part of the celebration.

The free preview event will take place at 10:15 a.m. Friday at La Fiesta restaurant, 150 S. Oregon St.

Mayor Jim Lewis, along with the Jacksonville Events Guild's Jeff Levin and Rogue Opera Guild's Lenore Leines, will greet and welcome the visitors from China.

A cooperative effort between the Beijing Opera and performers from several local theaters, the colorful performances involve painted faces and silk costumes.

"It's not just singing," said Ghaffar Pourazar, performer and director of the Beijing Opera, adding that the word opera can be deceiving.

"It's a lot of stage fighting, dancing and acting."

The production is entertaining for all ages, he said. "It's action-packed."

The opera's performances during the Chinese New Year Celebration are at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Feb. 16 and at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 17. All are in the U.S. Hotel Ballroom. Tickets are $25 each.