Meng Xiaodong: A Dream Catcher on a Woolen Blanket

May 20, 2013
By Zheng Qiao and Dong HuifengEditor: Amanda

Meng Xiaodong: A Dream Catcher on Woolen Blanket is a biography of female Peking Opera star Meng Xiaodong (1908-1977), which features a great amount of historical material.

The cover of Meng Xiaodong: A Dream Catcher on a Woolen Blanket [yesasia.com]

The cover of Meng Xiaodong: A Dream Catcher on a Woolen Blanket [yesasia.com]

Meng was famous for her charisma and expressive body language on stage in the 1940s. She often played the laosheng, a dignified older role in Peking Opera, and won the accolade of 'Queen of Laosheng'.

Meng studied opera under Master Yu Shuyan (1890-1943), founder of the Yu School of vocal and performing style, and became the only female disciple of Mater Yu.

Meng was also known for her love affair with Peking Opera master Mei Lanfang (1894-1961), who was exclusively known for his qingyi roles, the Dan role of virtuous and elite women.

Unfortunately, their love affair ended sadly because of various social and family pressures, as Mei was already married at the time.

Later, Meng married famous Shanghai gangster Du Yuesheng (1988-1951), and followed him in moving to Hong Kong in 1949 and to Taiwan in 1967.

In 1977, Meng passed away in Taipei.

For half a century, Meng disappeared from public view until the movie Mei Lanfang (2008) staged their love affair on the screen, reminding the public of the Peking Opera actress.

Wan Bo'ao, president of the Biography Society of China, collected historical material and interviewed the descendants of Meng and Du in 2009. Eventually, Wan completed Meng's biography with Ma Simeng, son of dramatist Ma Yanxiang (1907-1988), and published the book in the Chinese Mainland in 2009.

In early 2013, the Meng Xiaodong Chinese Opera Scholarship Foundation introduced the book to Taiwan.

The foundation's President Yu Muming said at the book launch in Taipei on March 22, 2013 that Chinese people should promote excellent traditional Chinese culture and hopefully the book would help cross-Strait Peking Opera artists and enthusiasts to learn more about the history of Meng's time.

Wan, who also attended the launch, said the reason the book was titled 'Woolen Blanket' was that Peking Opera artists perform on a red blanket on stage.

A TV drama series adapted from the book will start shooting in 2014 and has already begun to audition cast members, including the heroine.

(Source: chinanews.com/Translated and edited by womenofchina.cn)

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