Peking Opera Actress Xue Yaping
Peking Opera Actress Xue Yaping
2008-10-28 15:07:36 CRIENGLISH.com
Earlier this month, Xue Yaping, a well-known Peking Opera actress, performed at the Mei Lanfang Grand Theater after a 16-year hiatus. Many Peking Opera fans who have been awaiting her performance for years were thrilled to see her back on stage.
During her years abroad, Xue Yaping made many efforts to introduce Peking Opera, a traditional Chinese art form, to a wider audience. Our reporter Chen Zhe has the story.
Believe or not, the Peking Opera song you just heard was performed not by a professional actress, but an American student named Elizabeth.
As one of Xue Yaping's foreign students, Elizabeth Paich began studying Peking Opera at the age 15 and progressed quickly. Just a month later, she debuted at her high school. Elizabeth says she could not have done it without the help of her teacher, Xue Yaping, despite their difficulty communicating due to the language barrier.
Elizabeth talks about her experiences under Xue Yaping's tutelage.
"When I was studying with her, I was focused on Gui Fei Zui Jiu, the Drunken Concubine and she really helped me out. The music and mood and dancing really broke the language boundary, so I just had to follow and learn. She is definitely very friendly. She is also very encouraging. If you need to slow down, she will slow down and go through it again and again. She never gets annoyed. She is always willing to help."
Influenced by her mother and grandfather, who are both famous Peking Opera actors, Xue Yaping has been interested in the art form since childhood. She started practicing at a very young age, and later studied under the renowned Peking Opera artist Zhang Junqiu.
With her talent and devoted studies, Xue Yaping soon became one of the most promising young Peking Opera actresses in China. In the 1990s, she won the 8th Plum Blossom Award and Mei Lanfang Gold Prize, the highest honor in the field of Peking Opera. However, Xue Yaping was not satisfied with these achievements.
"I always set new standards for myself. After winning so many prizes at home, I thought I could do something to promote traditional Chinese art worldwide, so I decided to go abroad."
Xue Yaping left China for the United States, where she worked as a college lecturer and Peking Opera instructor.
"Surprisingly, I found that a lot of overseas Chinese love Peking Opera. For them, Peking Opera is a way of reconnecting with their homeland. Actually, many of them are very good at it."
Xue Yaping later opened a school in the United States and another in Taiwan, where there are also lots of Peking Opera fans.
Xue Yaping often joined her students onstage. Together, they have performed at the Lincoln Center in New York, and her student, Sophie Chen, was even invited to perform in Broadway.
Sophie appreciates Xue Yaping's coach a lot.
"She knows how to teach you to sing, and has some different way than other teachers that I know. First she coach your voice, tell you how to get your voice out and she has some sings to guild your voice to go down or go up. For me, her way is very effective so I picked it up pretty fast."
Xue Yaping won the Most Outstanding Asian Artist Award presented by the Lincoln Arts Center and won the American Chinese Art Association award.
Loaded with awards, Xue Yaping is back in China, continuing her quest to promote Peking Opera. She now has adapted some singing methods from opera to her performance.
"The traditional way of singing Peking Opera is like this. (Sing) But now I changed that way of singing by combining both Chinese and western singing methods like this. (Sing) In this way, I hope the Peking Opera can be accepted by the modern world."
For Beyond Beijing, I'm Chen Zhe.