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Yueju Opera Player Wu Fenghua
    2007-09-30 14:18:59     CRIENGLISH.com

Video Show of Wu Fenghua's Performance

Wu Fenghua is a renowned Yueju actress from the Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Troupe of Shaoxing. She is usually referred to as the famous "actor" of Yueju since she takes the male role in dramas.

Yueju, or Yue opera, is one of the most popular local styles of opera in eastern China. Since the initial development of this art form in the 1920s, most of the male roles, "xiao sheng", have been performed by actresses. This tradition still exists. When we look at the history of Chinese opera, we find that the art of cross-dressing has always been very popular. In fact, Beijing's most famous "actress" was Mei Lanfang, a man. Obviously, cross-dressing is very appealing to Chinese audiences. After putting on an ancient costume and applying make-up, an actress can look like a handsome male and an actor can appear as a beautiful woman.

Famous Yueju Opera performer Wu Fenghua in a teahouse in Shaoxing, Zhejiang on September 23, 2007. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]

Wu Fenghua is a master at this kind of crossing-dressing, she is the most outstanding of all female "xiao sheng" performers. Usually female "xiao sheng" take the role of young scholars, something they can make fine and exquisite. In Yueju, female "xiao sheng" naturally imbue a sense of femininity into their roles, but Wu Fenghua is capable of also expressing masculinity on the stage. Besides young scholars, she can play warriors, generals and emperors. She specialises in both singing and martial arts---which is the particular expertise of the Xiaobaihua Yueju Opera Troupe of Shaoxing. Most of the members in the troupe are good at martial arts. Wu Fenghua has even been seriously hurt several times because of fighting on stage.

Wu Fenghua's acting abilities are superb. She does not simply act out a part, she becomes the character. Over the past twenty years she has performed in over thirty roles. There have been various kinds of roles---scholar and general, weak and strong, positive and negative. One of her representative roles was the great challenge of playing Macbeth. The work "General Ma Long" is an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Macbeth", Wu Fenghua won high praise for her performance in the title role.

Without doubt many fans are crazy about Wu Fenghua. She is an actress known for her combination of female charm and male magnetism. On the stage, "he" is a handsome man; off the stage, she is a beautiful woman. She manages to cope with this difficult state of androgyny quite well.

Born in 1970, Wu Fenghua started learning Yueju in 1983. She has won numerous awards during her career, including the Plum Blossom Award in 1996, China's highest performance honour.

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