A leading Peking opera master who helped the campaign to save a historic theatre venue in Hong Kong will be stepping onto the stage there again this week.
Mei Baojiu, 78, and his Peking Opera Troupe are staging six shows in the Sunbeam Theatre in North Point, the first being held last night.
Mei, who now seldom performs, will take part in the last four shows from Friday, including the well-known opera, The Return of the Phoenix to the Nest.
"Sunbeam Theatre is a place very familiar to me, I have performed here since the 1980s," said Mei, son of the renowned Peking opera performer Mei Lanfang.
Having just flown in from Beijing, which has been plagued by smog, he was on medication for an irritated respiratory tract yesterday and apologised that it might affect his singing.
Mei and his father are known for their "Mei style" of playing elegant female roles. Having inherited it from his father, he has been teaching the classic Chinese art form to his students.
Speaking at a press conference before the show yesterday, he said he hoped to bring his troupe to Hong Kong more often.
"Hong Kong is an important point in promoting and passing on Chinese classics. People from different parts of the world come to the theatres here," he said.
Next year is the 120th anniversary of his father's birth and he plans to make the Sunbeam Theatre one of the venues for commemorative performances.
He was among those who urged the theatre managers to keep the performance venue when it faced closure last year.
It was kept and revamped after playwright Li Kui-ming's last-minute rescue. It was Li who invited Mei to perform at the theatre again.
Mei's connection with Hong Kong dates back to his teenage days when he lived in the city for about two years. His father's earliest performance in the city was in the 1920s at the old Lee Theatre.
Sunbeam Theatre chief executive officer Yuen Hoi said it was now difficult for mainland theatrical troupes to perform in Hong Kong.
"The government venues are not adequate even for local troupes. How can mainland troupes perform here?" he asked, adding that the privately owned theatre provided an alternative.