Traditional art being revitalized
As Peking Opera faces a falling viewership, modern tech and adaptations are encouraged
Opera with contemporary TV, and features Yuan in the lead role. In 2008, Yuan initiated the idea of shooting a film, the first of its kind in the country, based on the Peking Opera piece,
and she played the lead role of Jiang Guizhi, a loyal wife.
One of the most successful Peking Opera artists among the younger generation is Zhang Huoding. The 46-year-old is one of a few Peking Opera performers who can receive the acclaim usually reserved for a pop star in China.
Zhang’s main job now involves teaching at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts. Born in Baicheng in Northeast China’s Jilin province, Zhang began her studies in Peking Opera in Tianjin in 1986. Upon graduation three years later, she focused on the Cheng school — one of the four major Peking Opera styles that emerged in the early 20th century — under accomplished performer Zhao Rongchen (1916-96). The Cheng school, founded by famed Peking Opera master Cheng Yanqiu, is known for its sorrowful and graceful singing, especially when portraying vulnerable and constrained female roles.
Zhang caused a sensation in 2015 by performing the famous Peking Opera pieces,
and at the Lincoln Center in New York. Given her influence and popularity, the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts launched an art heritage center named after her in November 2015. The center is dedicated to teaching, performing and research into the Cheng school of Peking Opera. of the White Snake
Zhang Huoding performs
at the Lincoln Center in New York in November 2015.