183 Beijing Operas - Hou Yi - Number 2
Beijing Opera - "Chang'e Flees to the Moon"
Hou Yi with a purple three-tile face is a leading character in the opera "Chang'e Flees to the Moon." The immortals in heaven were moved by the people's suffering. The Emperor of Heaven sent the archer Hou (Prince) Yi to help Yao bring order. Hou Yi, with his beautiful wife Chang'e, descended to earth carrying a red bow and white arrows given him by the Emperor of Heaven. People greeted the archer joyfully, as a hero who might save them from their torment. Ready for battle, Hou Yi strode to the center of the square, drew his bow and arrows, and took aim at the imperious suns. In an instant, one after the other, nine suns were shot from the sky. As Hou Yi took aim at the tenth, Yao stopped him - for the last sun might be of benefit to people. So ends the story of Hou Yi and the nine suns. Other stories tell of how he slays fierce beasts, birds and snakes, and becomes a hero to the people.
Soon the archer sensed aloofness and a lack of confidence in the Emperor's attitude. Finally, Hou Yi and his wife were banished forever from heaven and forced to live by hunting on earth. Hou Yi, sorry that his wife had to lead a mortal's life for his sake, obtained an elixir of immortality from Xiwangmu the Queen Mother of the West. He hoped that, even though condemned to earth, he and his wife could live together happily and forever. Chang'e, however, resented her new hard life, and while Hou Yi was away from home she swallowed all the elixir and flew to the moon.Another Mask for this Opera - Mask 264
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