An authentic Peking Opera show staged by performers from both China and the United States drew a crowd of over 500 enthusiastic fans in New York on the afternoon of Nov 17.
The three-and-a-half hour show, entitled The Battle of Red Cliffs, brought together some big names from modern Peking Opera circles, such as Ma Shaoliang, Liu Yonggui and Zhang Jingtao, at a Pace University theater in lower Manhattan.
The show is on the story of a decisive battle in ancient China from around 1,800 years ago, which led to the emergence of three separate states in the country, historically known as the Period of the Three Kingdoms.
Ma, one of the leading actors in the show, is 75 and has won numerous awards for his performance skills in China. He was also awarded a "lifetime achievement medal" in 2006 at New York's Lincoln Center. The show was also dedicated to the 66th anniversary of his personal Peking Opera career.
While a large proportion of the audience were gray-haired Chinese Americans who are in love with this traditional opera and familiar with almost every detail of this classic show, there were also young Americans, attracted to Chinese culture and theatrical arts.
"It's fun to hear the audience get excited," said 22-year-old American student Elijah, who interned at a local Chinese theatrical workshop in the summer. "I really enjoyed it."
Elijah said that he didn't know the story beforehand, but especially liked the scenes with Zhuge Liang and Lu Su, the masterminds who play decisive roles in the battle.
"I think there's a lot of great singing happening," he said.
David Ho, an 80-year-old retired newspaper editor, has dedicated a lot of time to translating Peking Opera scripts into English.
"The treasure of Peking Opera has to be passed on to the next generation and inherited. I wish one day it could be staged in Broadway theaters, letting the world see the way Chinese people perform their drama," said Ho.
The show was the highlight of the 12th Winter Cultural Exchange Festival of the New York Chinese Opera Society, a nonprofit organization committed to preserving and promoting the art form.