Xiao Di: Making Peking Opera Shine in the Era of Diversity
May 12,2023

Xiao Di starring in digital film Lady General Mu Takes Command

“As a third-generation heir to the Mei School of Peking Opera, I have always been seeking for innovation, development and breakthrough over the years, while inheriting the traditional features of the Mei School.” Recently, Xiao Di, a national first-level actor and a personal disciple of Mr. Mei Baojiu, the master of the Mei School of Peking Opera, talked about her journey to promote artistic innovation by constantly experimenting and challenging herself to integrate different ideas from diversified and multiple perspectives.

Xiao Di is a famous young performing artist of the Mei School of Peking Opera in China. Over the years, she has created a number of classic stage images that have left a deep impression on numerous Chinese at home and abroad.

Born in 1984 in Shenyang, Xiao Di fell in love with Peking Opera at an early age, and successfully entered the Peking Opera Department of the Liaoning Academy of Arts when she was 11. With her excellent talent, she progressed rapidly in just a few years, and won the Rose Award, the highest award in Peking Opera in Liaoning Province at the age of 17, becoming the youngest recipient of the award since its establishment. After that, Xiao Di joined Dalian Peking Opera Theatre and became an important Qing Yi actress (a leading female role in the opera).

With ever more matured performing skills, Xiao Di gained recognition from Mr. Mei Baojiu, the master of the Mei School of Peking Opera. In 2008, she was officially apprenticed to Mr. Mei Baojiu and became the third-generation heir to the Mei School of Peking Opera.

On stage, Xiao Di is a beautiful and elegant actress with a graceful gait, full of artistic expression and appeal during her performance. Mr. Mei Baojiu said of Xiao Di, “With her attractive costume, sweet voice, dignified temperament, god-given gift and diligence, she is an excellent talent to inherit the Mei School.”

Xiao Di and Mr. Mei Baojiu performing together

On the eve of the Mid-Autumn Festival in 2014, to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Mr. Mei Lanfang’s birth, a large-scale classic mythological play of the Mei School, Chang’e Flying to the Moon, starring Xiao Di, successfully made its debut at the National Grand Theatre in Beijing. The revival of the Peking Opera Chang’e Flying to the Moon, successfully drawing on the highlights of other similar plays while considering the interests and mentality of the audiences, constantly polished the lines and reformed the stage performance, so as to bring vitality to the traditional Peking Opera while inheriting the Mei School classics.

In June 2012, the only Mei Lanfang Art Institute in China was established in Shenyang Normal University, with Mei Baojiu taking the position of honorary director and Xiao Di the director. Today, after more than ten years of consolidation and development, the Mei Lanfang Art Institute has developed into a professional art research organization integrating subjects such as artistic performance practice, theoretical research on the genre, research on the aesthetic topics of the Mei School, and academic research and inheritance of the Mei School.

Xiao Di once said that the art of Peking Opera is always neither friendly nor aloof to the times, because it is necessary to maintain the traditional style while keeping up with the times. “When the Internet becomes an important channel for us to obtain information and knowledge, it also launches a brand new topic and challenge for Peking Opera art workers. How the ancient art of Peking Opera can achieve a successful transformation in the new era is a problem that our generation must face and solve.” Xiao Di said.

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