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Chinese opera legends make UK stage return

By Wang Mingjie in London | China Daily UK | Updated: 2018-10-11 22:46
Peking opera The Emperor and the Concubine. [Photo provided to China Daily]

UK audiences will have an opportunity to enjoy a feast of Chinese culture when the China National Peking Opera Company returns to the country for the fourth time, for a series of workshops and performances.

Events will be held at the British Library, Oxford's Ashmolean Museum, and the world famous dance theater of Sadler's Wells, featuring artists including actress Lisa Lu, revered Peking opera practitioners Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu.

On Thursday at the British Library, Lisa Lu, who also played a role in recent cinema hit Crazy Rich Asians, will lead a panel of artists from China, the US and the UK to discuss their experiences of working across a variety of artistic fields in different cultures over many decades.

The series of activities also include interactive workshops, which explain the intricacies of the intriguing art of Peking Opera, also known as jingju. The secrets behind a great opera, from music to instruments, from make-up to martial arts, will be revealed at the British Library workshops on Saturday and Sunday.

Oxford's Ashmolean Museum will host a similar event on Friday.

The Monkey King and The Leopard, a spectacular combination of martial arts, acrobatics and comedy. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Events culminate on Oct 19 and 20 at Sadler's Wells in North London, with two performances of The Emperor and the Concubine, one of the most celebrated operas, as well as The Crossroads Inn and The Monkey King and The Leopard – a spectacular double-bill of martial arts, acrobatics and comedy.

Li Shengsu, who led the cast of The Emperor and the Concubine and is the head of troupe one in the China National Peking Company, explained that the show is the beautiful love story championed by Peking Opera Master Mei Lanfang (1894-1961), and it is one of the very few works from the Master Mei's that had been handed down since 1920s.

"It showcases perfectly the masterful art of Peking Opera with its elegant and enchanting dance, song, music and drama, and represents the outstanding features of Mei School," she added.

The productions are being presented in partnership with London-based Sinolink Productions, a company that promotes Chinese art, culture and performance to British audiences.

Zhang Kewei, producer and director of Sinolink, said "It is delightful to see that the China National Peking Opera Company returns to London for the fourth time with another two masterpieces this year.

"It provides a great platform for audiences from both the UK and China to experience and enjoy the best of China's performing art and artists on the UK stage," he added. "The performances so far have received very positive feedback from audiences and the United Kingdom's media and we are looking forward to further expanding our program."

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