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Peking Opera artists from China and Singapore celebrate long friendship

By Chen Nan | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-07-07 15:42

Calligraphy works by Peking Opera masters are on display at Meilanfang Grand Theater in Beijing. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

On July 7, 1937, the China's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) broke out in the southwest outskirts of Beijing.

When the news passed to Singapore, a group of patriotic overseas Chinese volunteered to raise funds to support the fight against Japanese invasion in China. The local war hero Lim Bo-seng initiated the idea of founding the Ping Sheh Singapore Amateur Beijing Opera Society.

Through Peking Opera performances at various locations in Singapore, such as parks, public squares and theaters, the troupe not just raised funds but also informed the public about the war situation in China.

As the first and oldest amateur Peking Opera troupe in Singapore, Ping Sheh Singapore Amateur Beijing Opera Society also performed at cities on the Chinese mainland, which enabled the amateur performers to learn with Peking Opera masters in Beijing during the 1950s and ’60s.

On July 2, James Yeo Huai-seng, chairman of Ping Sheh Singapore Amateur Beijing Opera Society, came to Beijing to donate 19 calligraphy works written by Peking Opera masters, including Mei Lanfang, Zhou Xinfang and Ma Lianliang, to National Peking Opera Company. These calligraphy works are being displayed at an retrospective exhibition held at the Mei Lanfang Grand Theater.

A performance was staged by Peking Opera artists of National Peking Opera Company, including Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu, at Mei Lanfang Grand Theater after the ceremony.

Tan Bock-hwee, former president of Ping Sheh Singapore Amateur Beijing Opera Society, also attended the event. The 85-year-old joined the troupe 66 years ago.

"I have been passionate about Peking Opera ever since I came to China to study at the Harbin University of Science And Technology in 1952," Tan recalls.

"The 200-year-old Peking Opera is not just a great performing art onstage but also an art, which contains traditional Chinese virtues and values," says Yeo.

"Although living on different countries, we've maintained a long friendship with Chinese Peking Opera artists," he adds. "The friendship continues. We want to promote Peking Opera among young audience in Singapore by introducing more young Peking Opera artists from China."

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