Life and times of Hong Xiannu

Updated: 2013-12-29 08:18

(China Daily)

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1924 Hong was born in Guangzhou.

1938 She went to Hong Kong to learn Cantonese opera from her aunt, He Fulian. Inspired by a character named Hong Xian in Peking Opera who frightens a corrupt officer by stealing his golden box, she changed her stage name to Hong Xiannu.

1947 She started her career as a movie star in Hong Kong.

1952 She established the Hong style of singing, which blends Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera singing, and Western bel canto techniques into the traditional Cantonese Opera actress' singing.

1955 She returned to Guangzhou and joined the Guangdong Cantonese Opera Troupe, the predecessor of today's Guangdong Cantonese Opera Theater.

1956 She went to Beijing to stage performances of Sou Shuyuan (Search College) and Zhaojun Chusai (Wang Zhaojun Goes beyond the Great Wall as A Bride). Then premier Zhou Enlai hailed Cantonese opera as the "red bean in the south", a term widely used to describe the art, after watching Hong's Sou Shuyuan.

1957 Late chairman Mao Zedong watched Hong's Zhaojun Chusai in Guangzhou and wrote an inscription to praise her comeback and encourage her to keep on performing.

1959 Hong joined the Communist Party of China.

1966-1978 Hong was sent to a farm in Yingde, Guangdong province during the "cultural revolution"(1966-1976).

1979 She made a comeback to the stage of Cantonese opera by performing at the province's gala celebrating the 30th anniversary of the founding of New China.

1998 The Guangzhou government hosted events to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Hong's career. The Hong Xiannu Arts Center was completed.

2009 She was named among the first 12 winners of lifetime achievement at the Chinese Drama Awards.

2013 Dec 8 Hong passed away because of illness in Guangzhou at the age of 89.

- Xu Jingxi

(China Daily 12/29/2013 page4)