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The man who journeyed to the heart of Peking Opera

Updated: 2021-12-11 09:57 ( China Daily )
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Peking Opera trainee Nadim Diab (in white costume); Peking Opera actor Yu Huikang (in black costume). [Photo by ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY]

The adage about Peking Opera still rings true: one minute of performance on stage requires 10 years of practice offstage. This sums up the rigorous training required for Peking Opera, the vivid, highly stylized ancient Chinese art form with a history of more than 200 years, which combines music, dance, drama, acrobatics and martial arts.

For Nadim Diab, or Li Long as his Chinese name, a Lebanese who lives and works in Beijing, he seems to have the adage as his daily routine as he takes part in a 100-day training program by professional Peking Opera actors and actresses.

He set a goal of performing in a Peking Opera at the end of his training to better experience and understand the ancient art form.

On Dec 1, Diab, along with Peking Opera actor Yu Huikang, performed an excerpt of Peking Opera piece, San Cha Kou, or At The Crossroads, which follows Ren Tanghui, a warrior escorting Jiao Zan, a Song Dynasty (960-1279) general, on his way to exile after Jiao was framed for a crime. Both Ren and Jiao spent the night at an inn owned by Liu Lihua, who mistakes Ren for an assassin set to murder Jiao. At the same time, Ren has a similar suspicion about Liu. In darkness, they fight fiercely. In the excerpt, Diab plays the role of Ren and Yu plays the role of Liu.

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