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  Chinese Way>Life

An opera legacy lives on

2013-08-27 16:29:22

(China Daily) By Zhu Chengpei and Zhang Xiaomin


The Hongji Stage has become a magnet for Dalian's Peking Opera fans. Zhang Xiaomin / China Daily

Last year, Dalian government allocated 120 million yuan ($19.6 million) for the theater to create new plays, cultivate talents, and buy costumes, according to Yan Jianfu, party secretary of the theater.

The theater tries to provide opportunities for young actors.

Besides the Saturday performances, it invites at least one famous artist to perform at the Hongji Stage every month.

The young can then learn from the best Peking Opera performers, such as Yu Kuizhi, Li Shengsu, and Meng Guanglu.

"Last year, we had about 200 live shows. All these help them grow faster," Yan says.

Bai Yang, 24, joined the Dalian theater as a performer after she won a national competition in 2012. Before that she played the role of daomadan (young female warrior) at a theater in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province.

The Hongji Stage is a great joy to her.

"When I was in Shenyang, I seldom had the chance to perform onstage. It was painful - having endured many years of practice but had no chance to demonstrate my skills," Bai says.

Yang Chi, 52, is a big name behind the popularity of DPOC, playing jiazi hualian (male character with a painted face, often associated with rude people). He gave up the chance to join China National Peking Opera Company to foster the art form in Dalian.

"The theater in Dalian needed me more. If I had not come back, the theater might have been shut down," he says.

In 2000, Yang became head of the Dalian theater. Since then, the cultivation of young actors has become the priority.

With years of efforts, they have cultivated some good young performers. Some of them even play leading roles.

"Dalian has first-class venues and facilities for Peking Opera. More importantly, it boasts the best audience in the country. They really know the art well," says Yan Dewei, a TV director with CCTV in an interview with Dalian Evening News.

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