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From May 9 to July 3, to celebrate the 120th birth anniversary of Peking Opera master Mei Lanfang (1894–1961), first president of the China National Peking Opera Company (CNPOC), the Min-On Concert Association invited the company to perform at some 30 venues throughout Japan.
Mei was instrumental in introducing classical Chinese opera to Japan in the early 20th century, paving the way for the development of Sino-Japanese friendship through cultural exchange, something Min-On and its founder SGI President Daisaku Ikeda have continued to promote since the founding of Min-On in 1963.
The CNPOC performed two programs: Farewell My Concubine, a tragic drama about Xiang Yu, a prominent warlord in the late Qin dynasty, and his beloved wife, Yu Ji, and Returning of the Phoenix, a comedy.
Making his stage debut at the early age of 10 in 1904, Mei Lanfang enjoyed a long stage career spanning more than 50 years, from the late Qing dynasty to the formation of the People’s Republic of China. He was also the first Chinese artist to spread Chinese opera to foreign countries, actively participating in cultural exchanges with Japan, the United States and other countries. His skillful portrayal of female roles in particular won him international acclaim.
A special exhibition on Mei’s life and achievements was also held at the Min-On Music Museum in Tokyo through July 6.
[Adapted from articles in the April 29 and May 15, 2014, issues of Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Min-on]
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