Classic Peking Opera show amazes New York fans

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An authentic Peking Opera show staged by famed performers from both China and the United States drew a crowd of over 500 enthusiastic fans in New York, the United States on Saturday afternoon.

The 3.5-hour show, titled "The Battle of Red Cliffs," brought together big names in today's Peking Opera circle such as Ma Shaoliang, Liu Yonggui and Zhang Jingtao, at a Pace University theater in lower Manhattan.

It tells the story of a decisive battle in ancient China some 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 excellent performance skills back 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 grey-haired Chinese Americans who are in deep love of this traditional opera and quite familiar with almost every detail of this classic show, there are also young Americans attracted to the 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 past summer. "I really enjoyed it."

Elijah said that he didn't know the story beforehand, but especially liked the scenes with the appearances of Zhuge Liang and Lu Su, two masterminds who played 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. He said although the art form is not easy for everyone to follow, people would fall in love with it when they start to learn more about it.

"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 not-for-profit organization committed to preserving and promoting the cultural heritage. It was co-hosted by the Confucius Institute at Pace University. 

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