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Shy star returns

Updated: 2016-05-16 08:22:32

( China Daily )

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Zhang Huoding is known for her performances in The Legend of the White Snake and The Jewelry Pouch.[Photo provided to China Daily]

According to Ye, The Legend of the White Snake marks a significant milestone in the development of Peking Opera.

In 1951, shortly after the founding of New China, famed playwright Tian Han (1898-1968), who used to write librettos for traditional Chinese operas, adapted the classic piece into a contemporary Peking Opera work.

Since then, The Legend of the White Snake has brought joy to generations of Peking Opera fans.

Ye also says his father, Peking Opera veteran Ye Shenglan (1914-78), performed the role of Xu in The Legend of the White Snake in Paris in 1955.

In the audience then were prominent French actor Gerard Philipe and film icon Charlie Chaplin.

Speaking of his upcoming role, Ye Shaolan says: "I rarely perform these days because I am over 70. But I am excited to perform with Zhang Huoding because she works hard and contributes to the development of Peking Opera.

"My father's generation took Peking Opera to the West. Now, we have Zhang Huoding, who is doing the same thing, giving Western audiences a glimpse of our treasured art," he says, referring to Zhang's successful debut performances in the United States in September.

Zhang caused a sensation then by performing The Legend of the White Snake and another famous Peking Opera piece, The Jewelry Pouch, at the Lincoln Center in New York.

Her US debut was even compared by the media to a performance by Mei Lanfang (1894-1961), who appeared in New York in 1930.

Zhang Yu, president of the China Arts and Entertainment Group, says: "Her performance in the US was a milestone for Chinese culture going global."

The group also organized the Meet in Beijing arts festival, besides Zhang's performance in the US.

Faced with this praise, Zhang Huoding, a woman of few words, replies with a shy smile, saying: "I guess the reason why my shows are popular is that I rarely perform in public now. So fans are curious."

Zhang's main job now involves teaching at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts.

She was transferred there in 2008 from the China National Peking Opera Company because she wanted to withdraw from stage and focus on teaching.

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