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Thousands bid farewell to Cantonese opera legend

Updated: 2013-12-17 19:23
By XU JINGXI in Guangzhou (

Friends, family and government officials gathered in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on Tuesday morning for the funeral of Hong Xiannu (1925-2013), a renowned Cantonese opera actress.

Thousands bid farewell to Cantonese opera legend

Thousands of people attend the funeral of Hong Xiannv, a renowned Cantonese opera actress in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, Dec 17. [PhotoXinhua]

Hong, who was also known as Kuang Jianlian, died of a heart attack on Dec 8 at the age of 88.

Zhu Xiaodan, governor of Guangdong, Wan Qingliang, Party chief of Guangzhou and Guangzhou Mayor Chen Jianhua attended the farewell ceremony.

Party chief Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang were among the many party and government leaders who sent wreaths and messages of condolence.

In his address, Chen spoke highly of the efforts Hong made "throughout her life" to promote Cantonese opera, both at home and abroad, passing on the art on to younger generations.

According to Chen, more than 1,000 people paid their respects at the city's funeral parlor.

Ma Dingsheng, Hong's younger son, said: "Hong has shared weal and woe with the country and did well from start to finish. Her life belongs to art. Her art belongs to the people. My mother will be remembered forever."

Hong Kong movie star Andy Lau also attended the ceremony, as did Cantonese opera actresses Liza Wang and Tse Suet Sum.

Hong was born in Guangdong and moved to Hong Kong in 1939, where she made her name. In 1955, she came back to the mainland and joined the Guangzhou-based Cantonese opera troupe of Guangdong.

After watching Hong's performances in Beijing in 1956, late premier Zhou Enlai hailed Cantonese opera as "red bean in the south", a term widely used to describe the art.

Hong developed her own style of opera performance, known as the "Hong genre". In 1990, she founded Guangzhou Red Bean Cantonese Opera Troupe to cultivate future inheritors of the art form.