In 2014, the 120th anniversary of the most outstanding Peking Opera performer of all times, Mei Lanfang, will be celebrated. He was the first actor ever to present Peking Opera abroad. Mei Lanfang's son Mei Baojiu, together with other outstanding stars of the Jingju Theater Company of Beijing, Mei Lanfang Jingju Troupe will present the Peking Opera Productions:"Classic Plays of the Mei School" and "Lady Mu Guiying Takes Command" in the United Stated of America.
Mei Lanfang (1894-1961) was a world-famous master of Peking Opera in China. He was a legend for his outstanding artistic achievements as well as his contribution as a cultural ambassador of China and Chinese art. He was born into a family of Peking Opera and Kunqu performers, and became the best-known among the "Four Most Famous Dan Performers" (female role type). Because of improvements and innovations that he brought to his art, What became known as the "Mei School" describes his unique oriental opera performance system, which together with the Russian Stanislavski System and the German Brecht System form the "Three Performing Systems of the World".
Mei Lanfang led Peking Opera abroad several times, not only promote the understanding of Chinese culture and art for the people all over the world, but also brought Peking Opera among the world's opera forest. He made his performances in Japan, the United States and the Soviet Union before 1949. His performance won reat applause. University of Southern California and Pomona Collage both conferred on him honoray doctorates of literature. Japanese scholars compiled all the newspaper reviews of his performances into a volume titled Pin Mei Ji (the Mei Review Record). His American production of Hongni Guan was made into a silent movie by a Japanese film company. Later, this production was made into a movie with sound by the famous russian director Sergei Eisenstein. The American media were lavish in their praise, stating that "Mei Lanfang's art unquestionably surpasses all obstacles existing between East and West."In addiion, Mei Lanfang's first performance in Europe took place in a music hall on Moscow's Gorky Street. Among the audience were such luminaries as Vyacheslav Molotov, Kliment Voroshilov, Maxim Gorky and Leo Tolstoy, all of whom were unstinting in their praise of Mei Lanfang's performing art.
Master Mei devoted himself to Chinese Opera for his lifetime and his contributions in Peking Opera's development and innovation are the huge treasure which is worthy of admiration. Let alone the stage performance, Mei Lanfang was involved in teaching as well.
Mei Baojiu, son of Mei Lanfang and the master of the second generation of the Mei School descendants, is a famous contemporary Jingju performer and a world-class artist. He is the leader of the Mei Lanfang Jingju troupe in Jingju Theater Company of Beijing, a member of the national committee of CPPCC, the president of the Art Foundation of Mei Lanfang, the graduate student supervisor of National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts and the national intangible cultural heritage project (Jingju) representative inheritor. Mei Lanfang not only inherited and developed Mei School, but also trained artists for it. He had 37 students all over the world, who have become the major force in the area of Jingju.
In 2005, he received the 5th China Gold Record Award.
In October 2006, he received a Lifetime Art Achievement Award from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In 2009, he was granted an Art Masters Award and Lifetime Achievement Award by the World Artists Association.
In May 2010, he received Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award.
In December 2010, he was granted Performing and Plastic Arts Award by China Federation of Literary and Art Circles.
In March 2012, he received his PhD from J.F. Oberlin University in Japan.
In April 2012, he was given the title of "Messenger of Peace" by United Nations World Peace Prayer Conference.