Troupe to herald Lunar New Year with Peking Opera
On Saturday, when the first day of the ChineseNewYear is celebrated, Jingju Theater Company of Beijing will present a show at the concert hall of the Forbidden City.
Excerpts from traditional Peking Opera pieces, such as Auspicious Dragon and the Phoenix and One Good Turn Deserves Another will be staged along with contemporary works, including Red Detachment of Women and Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy. They will be presented by Hu Wen’ge, Chi Xiaoqiu and more than a dozen other performers from the theater company that was founded in 1979. China during theHanDynasty (206 BC-220).
Mei Lanfang, Cheng Yanqiu, Xun Huisheng and Shang Xiaoyun are considered the top four Peking Opera masters. They’re known for their nan dan (males playing female roles) performances around a century ago. They also created four major performing styles named after them. Shang Huimin is an inheritor of her grandfather’s Shang style.
“In addition to his singing, my grandfather was known for his dancing and acrobatic skills,” says Shang Huimin, whonowteaches performers of the Jingju troupe. “This is difficult for young students to learn.”
In the past few years, there were few students following the Shang style, she adds.
“But since I was invited to give classes at Jingju Theater Company of Beijing last year, I am glad to see that young actors work hard to understand the performing techniques created by my grandfather.”
Young Peking Opera practitioners today also use technology to promote the art form, such as streaming their daily practice sessions and communicating with fans on social media.
Dou Xiaoxuan will also perform on Saturday.
The 31-year-old graduate of the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts has been studying under famous Peking Opera actresses, such as Du Jinfang and LiWeikang.
Dou, who has been with Jingju Theater Company of Beijing since 2006, will perform excerpts from The Peony Pavilion, aKunqu Opera piece written by Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) playwright Tang Xianzu.
“I want to perform differently in this show so I decided to performKunquOpera,” says Dou, adding that she is keen to have the audience appreciate the beauty of Kunqu, an even older art form that was once dominant in southern China.
The Jingju troupe is supportive of young actors learning Kunqu Opera because many Peking Opera masters also learned it, she says.
Dou Xiaoxuan is one of the young actresses playing in the Peking Opera shows this weekend.