Rosana Hsu, President
COMES TO HOLLYWOOD
By Lang Yun
As accolades of the spectacular Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics still echo in our ears, we are yet looking forward to the excitement in the forthcoming event of another facet of Chinese culture, the performing art of Beijing opera, jing xi, in Chinese. Compared to the Western sense of the world, opera, xi goes beyond. Upon the stage, there could be length arias, affected dialogues, comedic skits, rigorous acrobatics and even raging battles between opposing armies.
It is under the sponsorship of one lone lover of the art of Beijing opera, Rosana Hsu, president of the California Institute for Chinese Performing Arts in El Monte, that this meaningful cultural endeavor has been made possible. She recalls, with sparkles in her eyes, her early years in China, taking lessons from an old master, learning the intricate and captivating art of Beijing opera. Through the many years living in America, she has never left her first love, the love of the stage, the loves of the one true Chinese national treasure, the performing art of Beijing opera.
Coming to the famous Kodak Theatre in Hollywood this fall, in its full regalia and splendor, will be the renowned Mei Lanfang Beijing Opera Troupe. This troupe, over sixty member strong, is named after China’s most prestigious and iconic master of Peking opera, Mei Lanfang, who, himself, came to the U.S. in the early 30’s and received the honor of Doctorate in Performing Art from both the University of Southern California and Pomona College. In his many magnificent performances, Mei Lanfang excelled in his trans-gender roles. In the days when women were forbidden to appear on stage, Mei perfected the delicate art in female personification and portraiture. Old timers in Hollywood could still recall how the audience, including such luminaries like Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin, stood in ovation and applause, amazed and electrified by Mei Lanfang’s exquisite performance. It was also said that on his world tour, Mei met with the renowned Russian stage director, Constantin Stanislavski, and shared their in-depth views on performing arts between different cultures.
Especially notable in the coming event will be the troupe director, Master Mei Baojiu, son of Mei Lanfang, who, following the footsteps of his illustrious faster, has achieved eminence in the art in his own right. And, equally extraordinary is an accomplished younger actor, Hu Wenge, whose long years of intensive and rigid training in speech, voice and stage movement, has brought him critical acclaim.
About Peking opera, I quote the following from “Memoirs of an Aesthete” by Sir Herold Acton, an Englishman of Letters:
“The Peking theatre had become my chief pastime and hobby, and I spent half the day translating the plays…With their lilt in my ears and the lithe actors leaping before my eyes I fancied I could convey some of their charm to Western playgoers… For me it was the most exhilarating art China could produce… More and more I reply on my Chinese friends and the theatre for aesthetic nourishment…”,