Countless books about Mei Lanfang and Peking Opera have come out but this one is a pioneer in introducing how Mei and Peking Opera went global to be spreaded and welcomed overseas from Mei’s artistic achievements, his artistic characteristics and Peking Opera itself. The compilation instructions, content, preface and postscript are as follows to satisfy readers.
This book contains 12 types of important organized documents about the spreading of Mei Lanfang and Peking Opera at abroad and their acceptance by main audience in Japan, the US and the Soviet Union where Mei travelled to at that time. Mei’s own works, namely Mei Lanfang’s travel to the Soviet Union and A Journey to the East, Mei Lanfang’s travel to the United States and A Free Talk on China’s Stage Craft written by significant members like Qi Rushan and Zhang Pengchun from Mei’s team and Mei Lanfang, the fruit of a study on him by an American scholor Stark Yang are included in this book. Furthermore, comments from Japanese media in 1919 and 1924, records of artistic forums and firsthand data of Mei Lanfang artistic symposium held by the Soviet Union art world in 1935 collected and organized by other foreign scholars over the years can also be found in this book.
With a literature review, the author divides the book into three parts according to nations, specifically, three articles in “Mei Lanfang and Peking Opera in Japen”, four articles in “Mei Lanfang and Peking Opera in the United States”, and five articles in “Mei Lanfang and Peking Opera in the Soviet Union”. Those documents which came out in 1920s and 1930s are significant in their historical value and research value. Consequently, the author manages to preserve the maximum of the original texts and add some explanatory notes to clarify the original publishing time, journals or publishers, recorders, organizers and translators.
Qi Rushan’s The Structure of Chinese Operas, Mei Lanfang’s travel to the United States and A Scan of Mei Lanfang’s Art which cover much space in this book are revised on the basis of A Collection of Qi Rushan’s Essays1. Some other documents may fail to meet some norms of modern Chinse because they were written at an early time, such as the use of some structural particles, the names of some places and short sentence patterns. As a result, the author alters them to adapt to modern readers’ reading habits.
A Collection of Qi Rushan’s Essays:Liang Yan is also the chief editor of this book. It has 11 volumes in total and was published by Hebei Education Publisher and Kaiming Press on December, 2010.
Mei lanfang and Peking Opera at Abroad Content
Mei lanfang and Peking Opera at Abroad Liang Yan
Ⅰ.Mei Lanfang and Peking Opera in Japan
1.A Report on Mei Lanfang’s public performance in Japan in 1919 and 1924 (Japan) Yoshida Toshiko
2.Japanese magazine Trendy Drama invited famous dramatists to enter a forum held for Mei Lanfang in 1924 (shorthand draft)
3.A Journey to the East Mei Lanfang
Ⅱ.Mei Lanfang and Peking Opera in the United States
4.The Structure of Chinese Operas Qi Rushan
5.Mei Lanfang (the US) Stark Yang
6. Mei Lanfang’s Travel to the United States Qi Rushan
7.The Preface of”Mr.Mei Lanfang in the US: Comments and Reviews” Zhang Pengchun
Ⅲ.Mei Lanfang and Peking Opera in the Soviet Union
8.A Scan of Mei Lanfang’s Art Qi Rushan
9.A Free Talk on China’s Stage Craft Zhang Pengchun
10.Art’s Powerful Driving Force: A Record of the Soviet Union Artists’ Discussion on Mei Lanfang’s art
organized by (Sweden) Lars Kleberg
11.Mr. Mei Lanfang in the Soviet Union Ge Gongzhen and Ge Baoquan
12.Mei Lanfang’s Travel to the Soviet Union Mei Lanfang(posthumous manuscript ), Xu Jichuan and Li Feishu
Over the past 20 years, I have been engaged in the teaching and study on Chinese ancient opera literature and essays on the history of modern Peking Opera. Since 2010 when I became a member of International Institute of Chinese Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University, I have been studying the spread of Chinese operas at abroad up till now. The numerous things to research in oversea sinology and impressive progress my colleagues of the Institute achieved are so intriguing to me that I shifted my focus from opera art itself to its foreign transmission. With my previous study on Peking Opera theorist Qi Rushan’s ideas, I am familiar with studies on Mei Lanfang’s visits to Japan, to the United States and to the Soviet Union. Finally I organized the documents for the sake of future researches in academia.
A century ago, a group of social elites, represented by Mr. Mei Lanfang contributed to spreading Chinese culture to the whole world. Their remarkable efforts exert profound influences on the history of Chinese and foreign cultural exchanges and provides us with a historical lesson of “Going Global” for Chinese culture. This year marks the 122nd anniversary of Mr. Mei’s birth and I would like to express my sincere reverence for him and other distinguished figures at that time.
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the president of the Elephant Press, Mr. Wang Liuchun for his full support, which shows his passions for traditional Chinese culture, and financial aid for the publication of my book. My cordial and sincere thanks also go to executive editor Dr. Geng Xiaoyu who has spared no efforts in laboring through my draft.
at Beijing Foreign Studies University on May, 2016
(source:International Institute of Chinese Studies at BFSU)