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September 24, 2017

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Beijing opera star presents 'Selected Works'

With a strong cast led by its famous lead actor Li Bao-chun (李寶春), the Taipei Li-yuan Peking Opera Theatre (台北新劇團) will hold four Beijing Opera performances in Taipei from Oct. 24 to 28 at the Novel Hall for Performing Arts (新舞臺).

The theater has long attracted audiences interested in the traditional Chinese art form, which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. The "Selected Works from Li Baochun's Repertoire" (2012李寶春‧精演新老戲) offers insight into the versatility of Li's skills.

For those unfamiliar with Beijing Opera, we can say that there are four main role types: the Sheng (生), which is the main male role in Beijing Opera; the Dan (旦), which refers to any female role; the Jin (凈), which represents warriors, heroes, statesmen, adventurers and demons, and the Chou (丑), which is a comic character denoted by a white patch on the actor's nose.

In his formative years in mainland China, Li specialized in the role of the bearded old man — Laosheng (老生), but his name has since become synonymous in Taiwan with the high-flying martial arts combat hero or Wusheng (武生). In his upcoming performances, Li will also be playing the clown (小丑). The real challenge for him, however, will be the switch between various characters in very short periods of time.

On Oct. 24, Li Bao-chun will play the role of Lin Chong (林冲) in the "Wild Boar Forest" (野豬林). The play, based on classic Chinese novel about a peasant rebellion, "The Water Margin" (水滸傳), tells of Lu Zhishen (魯智深), a fugitive, who became a monk after killing a villain, who saved his friend, Lin Chong, an escaped military officer, in a wild boar forest.

"The Red Hair Galloping Horse" (紅鬃烈馬) will be presented on Oct. 25, in which Li Bao-chun will play the role of Hsueh Pinggui (薛平貴), who bids farewell to his wife Wang Baochuan (王寶釧) because of war. Eighteen years later, Hsueh successfully returns home as the commander of the foreign invaders of China to his poor wife, the daughter of the last Tang Dynasty prime minister. Wang, however, does not recognize him so he plays a trick on her to test her loyalty.

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