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13th Annual Peking Opera Festival Set for NYU Skirball Center Today

Qi Shu Fang Peking Opera Company, recipient of National Heritage Fellowship for the Arts, will present the 13th Annual Peking Opera Festival featuring Qi Shu Fang and the Company for one performances only today, April 28th at 3:00 PM at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square South). This performance is part of the World Stage Series presented by NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

To celebrate the Year of Snake, Qi Shu Fang Peking Opera Company presents the 13th Annual Peking Opera Festival with the Legend of White Snake. It is a rarely seen full-length Peking Opera Classic. The performance featuring the Peking Opera Master, Qi Shu Fang along with several other renowned performers from China. The performance provides a spectacular evening of music, mime, costumes, amazing martial arts, acrobatics, and traditional Chinese orchestra. Combining singing and dialogue with acrobatic tumbling and kung?fu fighting, the Qi Shu Fang Peking Opera Company stages an unforgettable glimpse into ancient China. The performance will be in Chinese with English subtitles.

The 13th Annual Peking Opera Festival is today, April 28th at 3:00 PM at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (part of the World Stage Series). Tickets are priced at $38. Students and group discounts are available. To purchase tickets by phone, call (212) 352-3101 or (866) 811-4111. To purchase tickets online, visit www.skirballcenter.org and to purchase tickets in person, visit the Skirball Center Box Office at 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South) open Tuesday - Saturday 12NOON-6:00PM and two hours prior to performances. For more information, visit www.qishufang.com.

Synopsis, The Legend of the White Snake: Once upon a time in the Mountain E-Mei, there were White Snake and Blue Snake. White Snake transforms into a very beautiful woman named Bai Su-Zhen. Blue Snake also transforms a very lovely girl, named Xiao Qing. They came to West Lake of Hang Zhou for a visit, Bai saw a young man named Xu Xiao. Bai immediately falls into an unrequited love. To help her sister, Xiao Qing set various magic tricks to entice Xu Xian to reciprocate the love and suggests that he marries Bai. Meanwhile the Abbot Fa Hai of a remote Buddhist temple in Golden Mountain senses the unusualness and pledges to capture the White Snake.

After the couple getting married, Bai, Xu and Xiao Qing moved to a city near the Yangtse River where Bai provided her husband with a medicine shop. She used her magical powers so that all medicines became especially potent, and the business in consequence prospered exceedingly. Fa Hai found Xu Xian and warms him that his wife is a snake. He Suggests Xu to find her real identity by giving her a glass of wine. On the momentous day, Xiao Qing goes to Mountain E-Mei and leaving Bai by herself. Xu Xian brings the festival wine and drinks with Bai. Bai unsuspectingly reveals her true form as a large white snake after drinking the wine and Xu Xian dies of shock after seeing that his wife is not human. Bai Su-Zhen and Xiao Qing travel to Mount E-Mei, where they brave danger to steal a magical herb that restores Xu Xian to life.

After coming back to life, Xu still maintains his love for Bai despite knowing her true identity. Fa Hai tries to separate them again so he captures Xu and imprisons him in Jinshan Temple. Bai and Xiao Qing fight with Fa Hai to rescue Xu, and Bai uses her powers to flood the temple. In the end, Fa Hai is not able to defeat Bai, Xu Xian is happily to return home with Bai.

BIOGRAPHIES

Qi Shu Fang has been performing Peking Opera all of her life. In her youth, she studied with her sister-in-law, the renowned martial arts actress Zhang Meijuan. At sixteen, she created a stir in Beijing when she played the lead role in "Three Battles with Zhang Yue'e." The great actor and female impersonator Mei Lanfang praised her performance of this tremendously difficult piece. After this early success, Ms. Qi went on to study at the Shanghai Municipal Theater School and performed as a leading actress with Shanghai Youth Peking Opera Company and the Shanghai Peking Opera Theater. During this time, her performance in the "Yang Paifeng" was made into a movie and her role in the 'modern Peking Opera' "Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy" made her a household name in China.

Ms. Qi also has performed throughout Asia and Europe. She performed "Green Stone Mountain," "The Legend of the White Snake," and "Autumn River" in Vienna to great acclaim in 1987. She was hailed as "a white-clad empress" for her performance of the "Flaming Phoenix" in Hamburg, Germany. In Japan, She is also known as one of the country's most beloved Peking Opera Stars. Ms. Qi moved to New York City and established the Qi Shu Fang Peking Opera Company in 1988. She was awarded the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor in traditional folk arts in the United States in 2001.

In 2003, Ms. Qi made her Broadway debut in her company's historic performance of The Women Generals of the Yang Family at the New Victory Theatre. Ms. Qi is accomplished in all areas of Peking Opera performance; in particular she is known for her full and sweet soprano voice, and her remarkable powerful martial abilities. Jack Anderson of The New York Times wrote "she fills the stage with magic that is inexpressibly enchanting." James R. Oestreich of The New York Times has praised her as "a bright star, a truly great artist."

Ms. Qi and her husband Ding Meikui currently lead the company across the country to promote Peking Opera and Chinese culture. Every year their professional performances are greeted with great enthusiasm by American audiences. In this regard, Ms. Qi has made a great contribution to cultural richness in America while at the same time building a bridge between East and West.

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