Peking Opera performance thrills NY

Updated: 2015-09-09 12:22

By Li Jing in New York(China Daily USA)

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The audience at Lincoln Center got the encore they worked for.

As the curtain fell at the David H. Koch Theater in New York last week, some in the audience shouted the name Zhang Huoding again and again. Then the curtain rose, prompting a thunderous round of applause, and Zhang stepped out and greeted the audience in the graceful, Chinese traditional way and presented another short piece of Peking Opera.

It was the US debut for Zhang, one of the premier Peking Opera actresses in China. Her performance was a resounding critical and commercial success.

"Zhang Huoding is absolutely amazing, and her voice and performance were so beautiful, so passionate and so special," Marc Karimzadeh, a fashion magazine editor, said after watching Zhang's The Legend of the White Snake on Sept 2.

"It is very new to me, and I am excited to see something from a culture that I am not that familiar with," he said. "The subtitles do work well, and I have no problem with the story."

Zhang Qiyue, the Chinese consul general in New York who also attended, shared a story on Sept 3 with New York state senators and Assembly members on the occasion of the celebration of a New York resolution recognizing the cooperation between New York and China and President Xi Jingping's upcoming state visit.

"I was worried people would have not understood it (the opera)," Zhang said. "It is a very complicated story, very difficult to understand. The opera had a lot of singing and little drama. Actually, everybody enjoyed it so much, people did not want to leave after the performance."

She said that "if people can understand a difficult thing like Peking Opera, which most Chinese people don't understand, I think we have a good story there."

Whitney Robinson, an audience member, said he saw a lot of opera in general, but there was little Chinese opera in America. "There is always Western opera. The chance to see something Chinese is kind of quite remarkable."

Robinson had never heard of Zhang but read up on her before the show. "There is so much about Zhang Huoding, and to see someone famous is very interesting," he added.

Vena Harwilchuk, another audience member, said the type of roles and the way they are portrayed are what interest her most about Peking Opera. "Every person in the cast can sing, dance and perform martial arts. They can do everything. You can see the level of commitment and dedication that it would take. Everything is on the stage," she said.

While The Legend of the White Snake attracted both Chinese and American attendees, the audience for the Jewelry Pouch was mostly Chinese.

Lin Bo, an opera music teacher, drove from New Jersey so that her 6-year-old daughter could see Zhang's show. She said her own mother got her interested in Peking Opera, and she hoped her daughter also would be interested.

"In the US, there is little chance to see the finest of Chinese traditional arts," said Bo, who has been in the United States for 15 years. "The high-level shows of Chinese traditions will not only pass on the legacy to our Chinese living here but also deepen the understanding of Americans of Chinese and China."

(China Daily USA 09/09/2015 page2)