by Lindsay Friedman
Although Beijing is a capital with many living people of importance it has an extensive history of those important to the Asian world as well. This includes the Opera master, MEI Lanfang of China’s Jiangsu province.
The master was born Oct. 22, 1894 into a long line of famous opera actors. As a result, Mei began studying opera when he was 8 and landed his first role at the age of 12. Yet, his performance in “Shattering Flowers” was the one that attracted the most attention. Just two years later the actor moved his career to Shanghai and gained a national reputation and became the leader of PearGardern and started touring around the world.
Despite his newfound popularity, Mei’s tour came to a halt due to the Resistance war in 1943, causing him to settle in a small town in Hong Kong before his returned to Hong Kong. After years of waiting, the war finally ended in 1946, when he resumed his opera career until his death in August of 1961.
In most of his plays, women and his own son continued to be the center of attention (other than Mei himself). His most well known plays include “Farewell My Concubine”, “The Drunken Concubine or Drunken Beauty”, “Recommanding the Army”, “Scattering Flowers” and “Eternal Regret.”
Though he died relatively forgotten, music lovers around the world are rediscovering his talents. His ability to transform the stage and the musical realm with modern and classical Chinese arts grace the ears of those who will take the time to listen.