Shi Yihong to reprise classic Peking Opera role of master Mei Lanfang

The 45-year-old versatile Peking Opera artist Shi Yihong, who is also skilled in Kunqu Opera, will depict female assassin Fei Zhen'e.
Ti Gong

Shanghai-born Peking Opera artist Shi Yihong will perform a classic excerpt of "Fei Zhen'e Killing the Tiger" in the full version of “The Prophetic Paintings" on September 18 at the Shanghai Grand Theater.

The classic play hasn't been performed for more than 30 years. One of its characters, female assassin Fei Zhen’e, used to be depicted by Peking Opera master Mei Lanfang in the 1930s. When Mei performed the excerpt in the United States, Paramount recorded the performance in a short clip.

It took Shi a lot of time studying the footage and learning with Mei's apprentice to formulate her interpretation of the role.

The excerpt is a story about an ancient Chinese imperial palace maid, Fei Zhen'e, who assassinates a man in revenge for her master.

According to Shi, a winner of the Plum Blossom Prize — the highest theatrical award in China — portraying the role of Fei, who is not a professional assassin, was a real challenge.

"Many times Fei has to conceal her emotions and power, and all the emotions burst out at one moment," Shi said.

The full version of “The Prophetic Paintings" will also feature excerpts by the 77-year-old Kunqu Opera master Cai Zhengren, and Peking Opera artists Xi Zhonglu, Ke Jun and Hu Xuan.

The play is mainly about the rise and fall of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). 

Ti Gong

Shi Yihong depicts female assassin Fei Zhen’e in the play.

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