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Collection of Peking Opera Master Four Famous Junior Players of Dan Character CD

  • 4 famous junior dan character players
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Collection of Peking Opera Master: Four Famous Junior Players of Dan Character
Produced by Audio-Visual Press of Chinese Culture and Art

9 selected famous arias from 4 famous players of dan character in 40s of the 20th century: Li Shifang, Mao Shilai, Zhang Junqiu, Song Dezhu.

peking opera master
female role

Song Dezhu (1918-19840), born in Beijing. At the age of 12, he entered China Traditional Opera School for professional training in wu dan under Yan Lanqiu and Zhu Guifang. He also learned hua dan and qingyi from Yu Yuqin, Guo Jixiang, Zhu Ruxiang and Wang Yaoqing. After he left school, he got further instruction from Chen Yanqiu and Yu Lianquan. He was of martial bearing on the stage with beautiful uniform motion and quick and steady movement gestures. He was good at playing wu dan and daoma dan in Yang Paifeng, Hu's Village, the Little Cowherd, Fighting on Jin Shan, Si Zhou City, etc. He together with Li Shifang, Zhang Junqiu and Mao Shilai was named one of the Four Well-known Dan Actors. After the establishment of new China, he taught in Hebei Art School.

Zhang Junqiu (1920-), born in Beijing. When he was 14 years old, he began to learn traditional opera from Li Lingfeng and specialized in qingyi. He also took Shang Xiaoyun and afterwards Mei Lanfang as his teachers. He followed Mei Lanfang on the whole in the art of singing and was influenced by Shang Xiaoyun as well. His appearance on the stage was natural and graceful with a sonorous and sweet voice. He took the state at the age of 16 and gave performances together with Meng Xiaodong, Wang Youchen, Ma Lianliang and Tan Fuying. He was famous for those Beijing operas featuring singing, such as Lei Feng Pagoda, Sacrificing at the Riverside, Snow in Midsummer and Silang Visits his Mother. He gained most enlightenment  from Wang Yaoqing. In 1956, Zhang Junqiu, Ma Lianliang, Tan Fuying and Qiu Shengrong jointly established the Beijing Opera Troupe of Beijing, with Zhang as deputy head. By performing in Riverside Pavilion, the Dispute in Chu Court, Qin Xianglian, Concubine Chen, Qiu Jin, Top Scholar to Be a Matchmaker, the West Chamber, etc., Zhang has evolved a unique style in the art of singing and acting. He is one of the performing artists who exert great influence on the dan players. Since the 1980's, he has been professor and vice president of China Traditional Opera Institute.

Li Shifang (1921-1947), a native of Beijing. At the age of 11, he was enrolled in Fu Liancheng traditional opera school, specializing in qigyi. He was taught by Shang Xiaoyun, Xiao Changhua and Mei Lanfang. He was an outstanding student in the school. Later he took Mei Lanfang as his tutor and performed in the Mei style. He was called "Young Mei Lanfang". He and other three actors, Zhang Junqiu, Mao Shilai and Song Dezhu, were named Four Well-Known Dan Actors (only second to the Four Great Dan Actors). His appearance in make-up was graceful and natural; his acting was precise and vivid. He often acted in the Phoenix Returns to Its Nest, the King's Parting with His Favorite, the Drunken Beauty, Jin Shan Temple, etc. Li Shifang died in a plane crash on January 5, 1947, when he was on 26 years old.

Mao Shilai (1921-), born in Beijing. When he was 9 years old, he entered the Fu Liancheng school and was taught hua dan and wu dan by Xiao Changhua, Yu Lianquan and Wang Lianping. Later he took Mei Lanfang, Shang Xiaoyun, Xun Huisheng and Zhao Tongshan as his teachers. He inherited and developed their art styles and earned the fame of being one of the Four Well-known Dan Actors. At the age of 19, he finished school training. Since then he had co-performed with Zhou Xinfang, Gai Jiaotian, Li Shaochun, Li Wanchun, Ye Shengzhang and Ye Shenglan. With a loud and clear voice, graceful stage appearance and excellent singing and acting, he is good at both civilian and martial roles. He has had a repertoire of the Red Maid, Sister Thirteen, the Little Cowherd, the White Snake, Lady Mulan Joins the Army, Nan Jie Pass, etc. After the founding of new China, he was head of Jilin Beijing Opera Troupe and vice-president of Jilin Traditional Opera School.

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