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Peking Opera Master Mei Baojiu
    2008-10-15 11:00:06     CRIENGLISH.com

The Peking Opera master Mei Baojiu has recently stunned American audiences at the Kodak Theatre in the US with performances from his team, the Mei Lanfang Peking Opera Troupe. As the son of legendary Peking Opera maestro Mei Lanfang, Mei Baojiu has dedicated his life to carrying on his father's extraordinary success.

Our reporter Chen Zhe has more on his story.


 
This is Mei Baojiu performing one of his classics "Farewell My Concubine".

As a top-class national performer, Mei Baojiu is one of China's most distinguished Peking Opera performers and enjoys a worldwide reputation. His splendid achievements are closely related to his father, the Peking Opera legend Mei Lanfang.

Mei Lanfang was the establisher of the Mei style of acting, which was described as an elegant female like the graceful wife of an emperor. He is also a pioneer in showcasing Peking Opera to the world.

Born in 1934, Mei Baojiu was first trained in the art by his father at the age of 10. He had his first formal performance at the age of 13.

"I followed my father across China to do performances when I was still young. Usually I did them for several days while my father rested. When it was my father's turn I watched his performances from behind the stage. I did this for 10 years until my father passed away. I learnt a lot from him during that period."

Gifted with a clear and sweet voice, Mei Baojiu has easy control over his vocal techniques and his stage persona extremely resembles his father's. His personification of the essence of the Mei school makes him its best representative.

Peking Opera master Mei Baojiu [Photo source: pbase.com]

Besides "Farewell My Concubine", his classics cover "The Drunken Beauty", "Mu Guiying Takes Command" and "Xi Shi, the Beauty". Mei Baojiu's celebrated performances won him the "Asia's Best Artist Award" by the New York Lincoln Centre in 1989.

89-year-old Ma Jinfeng  is a distinguished artist of Henan Opera, which is another Chinese traditional opera. She highly praises Mei Baojiu's achievements.

"I welcome any joint performance with Mei Baojiu, anytime he wants. He has done such a great job. I have promised him that we perform together until we are 100 years old."

To secure the succession of his fathers' art, Mei Baojiu is also involved in management work.

Mei Baojiu is the head of the Mei Lanfang Peking Opera Troupe. Under his leadership, the star-studded troupe has become famous across China and the world with a number of unforgettable performances like Heroines of Yang Family and Legend of the White Snake.

The troupe includes Mei Baojiu's two most promising disciples, Li Shengsu and Dong Yuanyuan, the latter of whom won China's highest award in theatre, the "China Theatre Plum Blossom Award". Mei Baojiu is trying to cultivate and train successors to maintain the high standards of the Mei school.

With this determination in mind, Mei Baojiu attaches great importance to the opening of the Mei Lanfang Grand Theatre in last November.

Named after and as a memorial to Mei Lanfang, the theatre has exceptional facilities for operatic performances.

Despite being 74, Mei Baojiu is still passionate about his work to develop the Mei school and Peking Opera in general.

"It can attract more people, especially more young people to watch and to pay further attention to Peking Opera. I hope this Chinese traditional art can be more thriving and my father's art can last forever."

78 years ago, his father Mei Lanfang traveled across the Pacific Ocean to the United States, introducing Peking Opera to the Americans for the first time.

Mei Baojiu acting "The Drunken Beauty" [Photo source: sina.com]

Last weekend, Mei Baojiu and his team treated Americans again with classics, including Heroines of Yang Family and Legend of the White Snake, at the Kodak Theatre. He himself gave a personal depiction of The Drunken Beauty.

This week, the troupe will go to local colleges, introducing Peking Opera to the students.

For Beyond Beijing, I am Chen Zhe.

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