Embracing Mei Lang Fang


I first heard of Mei Lang Fang in the mid-80s. An American penpal of mine who was teaching English in Japan asked me about this Peking Opera star who entered the Peking Opera at the age of 8, debuted at 11, and began touring with the Xi-Lian-Cheng Theatrical Company at 14, playing the dan or female roles. If you have watched Chen Kaige's excellent Farewell, My Concubine which starred the late Leslie Cheung Kok Wing and Gong Li, you'd have an idea of what Mei Lang Fang's life was all about. Those days, children might entered opera training because their parents could not feed them but in Mei Lang Fang's case, he was born into this rigorous occupation. Both Mei Lang Fang's father and grandfather played dan roles, and his son, Mei Baojiu, succeeded him at the Mei School of Beijing Opera. Mei Lan-Fang however stood out as he perfected both the Qing Yi (noble woman) and Hua Dan (vivacious woman) roles and took their enactment to new heights of realism. When my penpal asked me about Mei Lang Fang, I told him honestly that I heard not of this man from the Qing era and he was very surprised, saying that most Chinese he came across did not know of this reknowned star who could well be the most famous Peking Opera star ever. Later, I did come across Mei Lang Fang being mentioned in a publication from China and that was all about it. Those days, I suppose it was hard to get information on Mei Lang Fang especially for an oversea Chinese in South East Asia but today, with the Internet, things have really changed drastically. In the internet, it has been reported that one of the movies to be watched this year will be Chen Kaige's Forever Enthralled, a movie on Mei Lang Fang starring Zhang Zhi Yi and Leon Lai but wheher the public will embrace the movie or not has yet to be seen, now that Zhang ZhiYi had her 81 scintillating photos splashed over the Internet...

Comments

Liudmila said…
You see, I deceived you. I've seen some Chinese movies in the times of the SU. There were revolutionary pieces and I remember there were some operas too. That is why I'm interested to know much about them.
footiam said…
There are many Chinese movies from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan but often, we see here in South East Asia the ones from Hong Kong and Taiwan. I have heard of China revolutionary pictures but I think they are banned here and operas from there are not too popular here too. I find it surprising that those movies can be seen in SU.
Liudmila said…
SU and China were Great Friends (so written and pronounced) till 60-th when China decided to own some isles in Amur. I remember it even if I was very little. I was very impressed by photos of killed and disfigured SU soldiers. That isles went under the water later. But the Great Friendship too. My paretns lived some years there and remembered that times of friendship. The movies I've seen maybe in the late 80-th. I'm not sure. Maybe the governors became friends an other time?
footiam said…
China get communism from Russia, I suppose and were good friends with Lenin.
Liudmila said…
I think, you are wrong. It had to be (Great Friendship) from late 50-th, I suppose, and Lenin was dead in 1924.
LarryD said…
Liudmila said...
>SU and China were Great Friends (so written and pronounced) till 60-th when China decided to own some isles in Amur<

Actually most Chinese liked the Soviet Union as it alone of all imperialist powers recognized China's right to independence. The "Father of Modern China" Sun Yat-sen once thanked Lenin for that. During the 60s, Kruschev began to listen to the West and decided to 1) withdraw promised technical aid from China and 2) insisted that China pay back all debts incurred during the Korean War even when China was facing economic difficulties. Now, there'd been a long-existing border treaty (Treaty of Nerchinsk) between Russia and China, but during China's years of weakness Russia had crossed that border and grabbed Chinese territories bigger than the size of Germany. "Vladivostok" was originally a Chinese port called Haishenwei, and the entire Amur valley belonged to Ching China. China did consider negotiating the border left over by history, but when Kruschev seemed to "betray" the Chinese, China began to claim the territories. I'm glad that Russia under Gorbachev did return some islands back, and though a few Chinese didn't support the new border treaty, the majority prefer a peaceful and happy neighbor than a surly one. Congrats to both Russia and China for finally demarcating their border.
footiam said…
Thanks Liudmila. Don't know about what happened between Russian and China!
footiam said…
Thanks Liudmila. Don't know about what happened between Russian and China!
footiam said…
Thanks Larry D for this piece of information. Over here in South East Asia, I don't know much about what happen over there in Russia .

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