This production is unique, both because of its content and eponymous hero, Mei Lanfang, and because of the unprecedented co-operation between China and the West.
In China, Mei Lanfang, who always plays women’s roles, is an icon of traditional opera and high culture. The Beijing Jingju Theatre is China’s largest Beijing Opera ensemble (employing over 700 people), and the one richest in tradition. The present production was devised by Chen Xinyi, currently the most famous (female) theatre director in China. The best performers from all over China will be appearing in this piece. Yu Kuizhi, who plays the leading role, masters the traditional art of Beijing opera. (In China he is as famous as a pop star.) Musicians from the Komisches Oper and the Ernst-Senff-Choir will study the score and perform in the orchestral rehearsals and in the stage performances alongside ten Chinese instrumentalists. Mei Lanfang, who was born into a famous family of opera singers in 1894, was not only one of the most important figures in Beijing Opera, but also played an important part in its revival. Enchanted critics such as Maxim Gorki, Konstantin Sergeyevich Stanislavski and Rabindranath Tagore are testimonies to the fascination his role-play held on audiences throughout the world. It was also through studying Mei Lanfang’s art that Bertholt Brecht developed significant aspects of his alienation theory. Like Mei Lanfang’s work itself, the current production is a much-discussed example, in China, of the translation of traditional forms into a contemporary music and stage language.
A co-operation project between the Komische Oper Berlin, the Beijing Jingju Theatre and the House of World Cultures. With the kind support of the Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin (DKLB)