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Opera troupe resurrects Qing dynasty crime classic

By Chen Nan | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-04-27 14:00

[Photo provided to China Daily]

Beijing Fenglei Peking Opera Company will premiere its new rendition of the classic Peking Opera, Xi Huang Zhuang, from April 29 to 30 at Beijing's Huguang Guild Hall.

According to its president, Song Yan, the Beijing Fenglei Peking Opera Company performed the piece back in 1990, with Peking Opera veteran Zhang Baohua, who died last year, in the lead role.

"Xi Huang Zhuang is rarely performed nowadays, but we want to pay tribute to the late actor Zhang Bohua, who was also my teacher, with this new production," says Song.

Adapted from a Qing dynasty (1644-1911) novel, Peng Gong An, the opera is compared to "crime thriller" by Song.

"It's about a policeman solving a very difficult case and the criminal is a good friend of the policeman," he explains. "It's a very interesting story and we adapted it into a contemporary format, which caters to a younger audience."

Formerly known as Min Le She, The 80-year-old company was founded by its first president, Zhang Qi, and Peking Opera actor, Liang Yiming. It was renamed the Fenglei Peking Opera Company in 1971.

When Song accepted the position of president in 2001, the company was in dire straits and facing extinction due to dwindling interest in the art form.

Now, the company has not only survived, but has thrived, becoming one of the more widely recognized troupes in the country and staging around 600 shows a year.

It has also toured more than 20 countries, such as Australia, Japan, Spain and the United States and has even staged an original composition, a dramatic tragedy entitled Wang Zi, that has since been performed nearly 50 times across China.

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