Peking Opera to Commemorate 120th Anniversary of Mei Lanfang at Lincoln Center

Article By Joy Chiang Ling
Photo credit Xue Liang

Peking Opera is a traditional form of Chinese theater that combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. It is considered one of the cultural treasures of China after becoming extremely popular during the Qing Dynasty.

Actress Lisa Lu with Mei Baojiu

In recognition of the 120th anniversary of one of the most outstanding Peking Opera performers of all time, Mei Lanfang, one of the most famous Peking opera artists in modern history, brought the art to the United States in the early 20th century – the first time Peking Opera has ever been performed outside of China. His accomplishments have improved relations between the United States and China, and have helped him gain international recognition.

Mei Baojiu

Mei Lanfang’s son, Mei Baojiu, has helped preserve his father’s legacy and keep Peking Opera alive in both the East and the West. Together, Baojiu and the Jingju Theater Company of Beijing, one of the most prestigious Peking Opera performance groups in China, introduced the “Classic Plays of the Mei School” to Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday night, August 20th.

The Classic Plays consist of five performances: The Goddess of Heaven Scatters Flowers, Pierce the Mussel, Resisting Jin Troops, Farewell My Concubine and Drunken Beauty. Each performance features extravagantly dressed female opera singers, stunning sets and beautiful music.

Mr Li Enjie, president of jingju Theater Company of Beijing

On Saturday, August 24th, Baojiu and the Jingju Theater Company will present “Lady Mu Guiying Takes Command,” an opera that tells the story of the Western Xia invasion of Northern Song.

Chinese and American viewers alike flocked to Lincoln Center to view the “Classic Plays of the Mei School” on Wednesday Night. Two screens displaying both Chinese and English subtitles were placed on opposite sides of the stage. The performance was a great success. Upon its conclusion, audiences cheered, applauded and praised the opera’s sophisticated artistry. Baojiu has clearly inherited his father’s talents, and will hopefully preserve the sacred cultural art form in the hearts and minds of people everywhere.

The Jingju Theater Company of Beijing’s performances schedule:

David H. Koch Theater, New York: August 23, 2014 at 7:30 pm, August 24, 2014 at 2pm. Tickets begin at $22 and are available at David H. Koch box office, or at davidhkochtheater.com. The Kennedy Center Opera House: August 27 & 28, 2014 at 7:30 pm. Tickets begin at $25 and are available at the Kennedy Center box office, or at kennedy-center.org.

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