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Qinqiang opera singer Li Mei

2009-06-16 08:52 BJT


Qinqiang is a thousand-year-old operatic genre originating in China's inland northwestern region. It has established a venerable tradition as an "opera shouted out" with its bold, resounding arias. Li Mei, has established a reputation as one of the four greatest Qinqiang actresses. She's breathed a very feminine sensibility into the masculine tradition. She's also known for her passionate commitment to exploring the theatrical possibilities offered by Qinqiang, is always more than happy to improvise and experiment.

The troupe is halfway through an afternoon rehearsal and most have broken into a sweat. But Li Mei shows no sign of exertion. Singing in a near-whisper, the forty-year-old opera star executes the stylized movements for the notoriously demanding role -- the vengeful dead Lady Li Huiniang in "Ghost's Hate".

Little wonder that Li Mei is such a powerful presence on stage. She's able to embody a character so persuasively and tell a story so convincingly that European audiences warmly embrace this unfamiliar art form.

Opera singer Li Mei said, "We performed this opera in the Netherlands to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the founding of Holland's National Theatre. We enjoyed a fifteen-minute curtain call and the audiences applauded wildly for a long time. The local press dubbed me the "Nemesis of the Orient" and the "Chinese Cytherea". Why is that so? Because they've fully understood what the opera implied -- the loyalty towards love, and though dead she may be, her love persists. I think the reason why this opera was able to touch millions of hearts is that it has a beautiful story presented by a beautiful art form."