The Confucius Institute at Temple University celebrates spring with Peking Opera

[Source]    Confucius Institute at Temple University [Time]    2016-03-23 13:52:47 

On the afternoon of March 12th, the Temple University Confucius Institute, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Chinese Opera Society, held a ‘Celebrating Spring with Peking Opera’ concert at the Temple Performing Arts Center. Nearly 700 people came to watch, including the President of Temple University Dr. Neil Theobald, his wife, teachers and students from the university, and locals from the surrounding area.

Dr. Theobald wore a tie with Chinese oracle bone writing on it, which had been given to him by the Confucius Institute, especially for the occasion. He was accompanied by his wife, Dr. Sheona Mackenzie, who also came to watch the show. In his speech, Dr. Theobald mentioned his own love of Chinese culture, and the fact that he even had a Chinese name, 习宝德(Xi Baode). He said that both he and his wife had a love of music and had been to many concerts, but this was the first time they had listened to Peking Opera.

Dr. Theobald giving a speech

There were a total of eight acts in all. The performances given by the young actors are particularly worthy of mention. The concert started with the classic sword dance routine from ‘Farewell My Concubine’. Huang Chaoyun, despite being just nine years of age, was graceful and fluid during the sword dance, and gave an extremely vivid performance as Consort Yu. Fourteen-year-old Liu Runcheng performed ‘the Romance of the Jade Bracelet’. An extract from ‘the Village of Hu’ was performed by Xue Yiming, a sixteen-year-old middle school student who moved to America when she was five and started studying Peking Opera from the age of nine. Thanks to an excellent command of martial arts, her performance perfectly embodied the character of Lady Hu.

Xue Yiming performing ‘the Village of Hu’

The former President of the Philadelphia Chinese Opera Society Lyu Hua, Director of a Chinese School Xu Lanwei, and Temple University student Li Junqing performed a section from ‘Romance of the West Chamber’ entitled “the sound of the harp”. Led by famous artist Han Kuixi, a few performers presented ‘the Lucky Purse’, a vintage masterpiece from followers of Cheng Yanqiu’s school of opera. During the play, male performer Li Junqing dressed as a woman to portray penniless female Zhao Shouzhen, and Han Kuixi brought an element of modernism and comedy to the performance.

Han Kuixi, Liu Yan and others in a performance of ‘the Lucky Purse’

The audience was moved by Xie Xiaoxian’s performance of a section from ‘the Drunken Beauty’, which was comparable to performances by the renowned Mei School of Peking Opera. Song Feihong combined vocals with a calligraphy display, singing Chairman Mao’s poem ‘Loushan Pass’ while doing calligraphy to the rousing applause of the audience. The atmosphere in the auditorium reached a climax during the rousing, majestic performance of ‘Red Mulberry Town’ by Che Xin and renowned opera star Zhai Xianzhong.

Xie Xiaoxian’s performance of ‘the Drunken Beauty’

Song Feihong’s performance of ‘Loushan Pass’

Che Xin and Zhai Xianzhong’s performance of ‘Red Mulberry Town’

Even after the concert had come to an end, many audience members were reluctant for it to finish. Teachers and students from Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance and the University of Philadelphia’s performing arts faculty were full of praise for the performance. Professor Peter Schmitz of the University of the Arts told stage director Li Xinhua that the concert had deepened his understanding of Peking opera and traditional Chinese performing arts.

The attentive audience

The non-profit Philadelphia Chinese Opera Society is made up of a group of amateur Peking opera performers from Philadelphia. First-rate actor Li Shuyuan is the artistic director for the group. Ever since it was founded in 1999, the group has been putting on performances in the east of America. Members of the troupe are committed to developing and spreading Peking Opera, no matter whether young, middle-aged or old.

Story by Li Xueqi and Lin Ling