|Died||August 8, 1961 66)(aged|
|Traditional Chinese|| 梅 蘭 |
梅 蘭 芳
|Simplified Chinese|| 梅 兰 |
梅 兰 芳
Mei Lan (22 October 1894 – 8 August 1961), better known by his stage name Mei Lanfang, was a notable Peking opera artist in modern Chinese theater. Mei was known as "Queen of Peking Opera". Mei was exclusively known for his female lead roles (dan) and particularly his "verdant-robed girls" (qingyi), young or middle-aged women of grace and refinement. He was considered one of the "Four Great Dan", along with Shang Xiaoyun, Cheng Yanqiu, and Xun Huisheng.
Mei Lanfang was born in Beijing in 1894 into a family of Peking opera and Kunqu performers (performers of a traditional Chinese theatre composed of drama, ballet, opera, poetry, and music) of Taizhou, Jiangsu ancestry.
At age 8, Mei Lanfang started training in Chinese opera skills such as acting, singing and acrobatics.Mei Lanfang made his stage debut at the Guanghe Theatre in 1904 when he was 11 years old playing a weaving girl. In his 50-year stage career, he maintained strong continuity while always working on new techniques. His most famous roles were those of female characters; skillful portrayal of women won him international acclaim, and his smooth, perfectly timed, poised style has come to be known in opera circles as the "Mei School." He also played an important part in continuing the performance tradition of Kunqu, noted particularly for his interpretations of Du Liniang (杜丽娘; in The Peony Pavilion ) and Bái Sùzhēn (白素贞; in Legend of the White Snake ). Mei's famous portrayal of Beauty Yu was so historically moving that Wenting Song said he was one of the greatest vocal artists in modern China.
Mei was the first artist to spread Beijing Opera to foreign countries, participating in cultural exchanges with Japan, the United States, and other regions. He toured the world, forming friendships with the western contemporaries of his day, including Charlie Chaplin. In 1930 he toured North America, visiting Hollywood, where he was welcomed by Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.In 1935, Mei toured Europe, playing to appreciative audiences in Berlin and Moscow. Seeing Mei perform especially impressed the German playwright Bertolt Brecht and influenced his concept of the alienation effect. He served as one of the mentors and guardians of the actress Li Yuru as she began her career.
In July 1937, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurred, and the Imperial Japanese Army soon occupied Beijing. The commander of the Japanese Army ordered Mei to perform for them and appointed Mei to a high rank official position. But Mei refused to sing throughout the duration of the war and endured an impoverished lifestyle until the war ended in 1945.
After 1949 he served as director of China Beijing Opera Theater, director of the Chinese Opera Research Institute, and vice-chairman of China Federation of Literary and Art Circles. Mei joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1959.Besides his autobiography, Forty Years of Life on the Stage, several of his articles and essays have been published in The Collected Works of Mei Lanfang. Recordings of his best-known performances have been published in A Selection of Beijing Operas Performed by Mei Lanfang. In 2000, the story of his life was filmed in a documentary entitled The Worlds of Mei Lanfang. Acclaimed director Chen Kaige directed Forever Enthralled , a film biography of Mei's life, released in December 2008.
In 1924, Mei went to Japan after learning about the Great Kantō earthquake that had caused destruction. During his stay, he not only performed, but he also donated to help the cause.
In the year 1910, Mei married Wang Minghua, and they eventually had one son and one daughter together. While still married to Wang, he married his second wife in 1921, who was also an opera actress. Her name was Fu Zhifang and together, they had nine children. In 1925, he began seeing a third woman, who was also an actress. They lived together unmarried for five years before they broke up. Mei's daughter Mei Baoyue was a Chinese opera performer.Mei's son Mei Baojiu (1934-2016) was a Chinese opera dan performer.
Chen Kaige's 2008 film Forever Enthralled is a biographical account of Mei Lanfang.
In 2009 the Chinese Google homepage displayed a logo commemorating his 115th birthday on October 22.
Traditional Chinese opera, or Xiqu, is a form of musical theatre in China with roots going back to the early periods in China. It is an amalgamation of various art forms that existed in ancient China, and evolved gradually over more than a thousand years, reaching its mature form in the 13th century, during the Song dynasty (960–1279). Early forms of Chinese theater are simple, but over time they incorporated various art forms, such as music, song and dance, martial arts, acrobatics, costume and make-up art, as well as literary art forms to become traditional Chinese opera.
Chen Kaige is a Chinese film director and a leading figure of the fifth generation of Chinese cinema. His films are known for their visual flair and epic storytelling. Chen won the Palme d'Or at 1993 Cannes Film Festival and the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award in 1993 for directing Farewell My Concubine.
The Zhengyici Peking Opera Theatre, located on a hutong in the Xuanwu District of Beijing, is one of the best-known Beijing opera theatres. It is also one of the oldest wooden theatres in China. Zhengyici means a temple (ci) for Zhengyi Xuantan Laozu (正乙玄坛老祖).
Peking opera, or Beijing opera, is the most dominant form of Chinese opera, which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. It arose in Beijing in the mid-Qing dynasty (1644–1912) and became fully developed and recognized by the mid-19th century. The form was extremely popular in the Qing court and has come to be regarded as one of the cultural treasures of China. Major performance troupes are based in Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. The art form is also preserved in Taiwan, where it is also known as Guójù. It has also spread to other regions such as the United States and Japan.
Kunqu, also known as Kunju (崑劇), K'un-ch'ü, Kun opera or Kunqu Opera, is one of the oldest extant forms of Chinese opera. It evolved from the local melody of Kunshan, and subsequently came to dominate Chinese theater from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The style originated in the Wu cultural area. It has been listed as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO since 2001. American arts magazine TeRra Magazine acclaimed Kunqu one of the most elegant entertainment performing arts.
Dan is the general name for female roles in Chinese opera, often referring to leading roles. They may be played by male or female actors. In the early years of Peking opera, all dan roles were played by men, but this practice is no longer common in any Chinese opera genre.
Xun Huisheng was one of Peking Opera's "Four Great Dan", along with Mei Lanfang, Cheng Yanqiu, and Shang Xiaoyun. All four were men who played the female lead roles (dan) during the generation when such roles became open to actresses again, after two centuries of exclusively male portrayal.
Zhou Xinfang, also known by his stage name Qilin Tong was a Chinese actor and musician. He was a Peking opera actor who specialized in its "old male" roles. He is considered one of the greatest grand masters of Peking Opera of the 20th century, and the best known and leading member of the Shanghai school of Peking opera. He was the first director of Shanghai Peking Opera Company.
Refunctioning is a core strategy of the aesthetic developed by the German modernist theatre practitioner Bertolt Brecht.
Forever Enthralled is a Chinese biographical film directed by Chen Kaige; the film marks Chen's eleventh feature film as a director. Forever Enthralled follows the life of Mei Lanfang, one of China's premiere opera performers. It stars Leon Lai as Mei, Zhang Ziyi, Sun Honglei and Masanobu Andō.
The China National Peking Opera Company (CNPOC), originally named the National Peking Opera Theater of China, is one of the national ensembles of performance arts directly under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China. Situated in Beijing, it was founded in January 1955, with opera performer Mei Lanfang as the first president in its history. The current president is Song Guanlin.
Mei Lanfang Classics is a Peking opera production which is composed of six classics from Peking Opera master Mei Lanfang. The performance is held in the Zheng Yici Peking Opera Theatre, an ancient theatre in Beijing. The director is Li Liuyi, and the art director is Mei Baojiu, the son of Mei Lanfang.
Mei Baojiu was a contemporary Peking opera artist, also a performer of the Dan role type in Peking Opera and Kunqu opera, the leader of Mei Lanfang Peking Opera troupe in Beijing Peking Opera Theatre. Mei's father Mei Lanfang was one of the most famous Peking opera performers. Mei Baojiu was the ninth and youngest child of Mei Lanfang. For this reason, he was called Baojiu, since in Chinese, jiu means nine. Mei Baojiu was the master of the second generation of Méi School descendant, he was also Mei Lanfang's only child who is now a performer of the Dan role of the Peking Opera.
Mulan Joins the Army is a 1917 Chinese-language play, which was one of the first plays and films with this title on the Hua Mulan story. It is notable for the casting of Beijing Opera legend Mei Lanfang as the heroine.
Li Liuyi is a Chinese director and playwright of Beijing People's Art Theatre. His theory "Pure Drama" and his related exploration in the field are known as "Li Liuyi Methodology", which is widely acclaimed and researched. Japanese modern theater master Tadashi Suzuki calls him "The most influential stage artist of Asia in the new century".
Ouyang Yuqian was a Chinese playwright, Peking opera actor and writer, film screenwriter and director, and drama educator. He is considered by drama historians as one of the three founders of Chinese spoken drama, together with Tian Han and Hong Shen. He was also one of the top Peking opera performers, regarded as a southern counterpart of Mei Lanfang.
Li Shuzhen, better known by her stage name Li Yuru and also known as Li Xueying, was a Chinese opera singer and actress. Descended from Manchu nobility, she is remembered as "one of the great Beijing Opera performers" and played an important role in the acceptance of female singers in female roles (dan). Amid the Cultural Revolution, she was imprisoned from 1966 until the early 1970s. In 1979, she married Cao Yu, one of the most important 20th-century Chinese dramatists, and, following China's opening up under Deng Xiaoping, she ended her life respected as one of the few surviving masters of the dan roles.
Li Shengsu is a Chinese Peking opera singer-actress who plays Dan roles. She began performing traditional Chinese opera from a young age and is a student of Mei Baojiu and other famous opera performers. She is widely considered a Peking opera superstar and has many renown performances. Currently, Li Shengsu is the director of Troupe One of China National Peking Opera Company. Li also holds positions in other organizations as well, including being a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. She has received multiple awards and recognition for her performance in Peking opera.
Shi Yihong, known as Shi Min before 2002, is a Chinese Peking opera singer-actress who plays Dan roles. A Plum Blossom Prize winner, Shi Yihong is considered a Peking opera superstar who not only excels in both vocal and acrobatic roles, but is always experimenting and expanding her repertoire despite resistance from conservative elements. Shi Yihong is a member of the Shanghai Jingju Theatre Company, but she also established her own production company in 2016.
Mei Qiaoling, born Mei Fang, courtesy name Xiaobo and art name Huixian, was a Qing dynasty Peking opera and kunqu artist based in Beijing. He specialized in playing dan roles, or women. Originally from Taizhou, Jiangsu, he was sold to a childless man in Suzhou at age 8. After that man remarried and begot a son, Mei was sold again, this time to a theatrical troupe where he had to train to become a performer. He rose to stardom despite his pudginess, which earned him the nickname "Fat Qiaoling" (胖巧玲). At age 30, he became the leader of the Four Happiness Troupe (四喜班), one of the most famous troupes in Beijing, and rarely performed after that.