Qi Shu Fang has been performing Peking Opera all of her life. In her youth, she studied with her sister-in-law, the renowned performer of martial women’s roles Zhang Meijuan. At sixteen she created a stir in Beijing when she acted the lead role in “Three Battles with Zhang Yue’e.” The great actor and female impersonator Mei Lanfang praised her performance of this tremendously difficult piece. After this early success, Ms. Qi went on to study at the Shanghai Municipal Theater School and perform as a leading actress with Shanghai Youth Peking Opera Company and the Shanghai Peking Opera Theater. During this time, her performance in “Yang Paifeng” was made into a movie, and her role in the ‘modern Peking Opera’ “Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy” made her a household name in China .
In addition to China, Ms. Qi has performed throughout Asia and Europe. In 1987 she performed “Green Stone Mountain,” “The Legend of the White Snake,” and “Autumn River” in Vienna to great acclaim; in Hamburg, Germany she was hailed as “a white-clad empress” for her performance of the “Flaming Phoenix”; and in Japan she is know as one of that country’s most beloved Peking Opera stars.
In 1988 Qi Shu Fang moved to New York City and established the Qi Shu Fang Peking Opera Company. In 2001 she was awarded the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor in traditional folk arts in the United States . She received congratulatory messages from President George Bush and Senator Hillary Clinton for this accomplishment. In 2002 Qi Shu Fang and her company took part in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Ms. Qi’s performances in the role of the Iron-fan Princess were a highpoint of the festival. Finally, in 2003 Ms. Qi made her Broadway debut in her company’s historic performance of The Women Generals of the Yang Family at the New Victory Theatre.
Ms. Qi is accomplished in all areas of Peking Opera performance. She continues the tradition of her predecessors in this art: the Peking opera actors Du Jinfang, Zhang Junqiu, Chen Xiaoqin, Zhan Yanxia and the Han Opera actor Chen Bohua. She has a refined acting technique – the result of many years of arduous training – and a full, sweet soprano voice. She is especially known for her abilities in martial roles, in which she displays a combination of the utmost grace with remarkable power. Jack Anderson of The New York Times has written, “she fills the stage with magic that is inexpressibly enchanting.” James R. Oestreich has praised her as “a bright star, a truly great artist.”
Ms. Qi and her husband Ding Meikui currently lead their company across the country to promote Peking Opera and Chinese culture. Every year their professional performances are greeted with great enthusiasm by American audiences. In this regard, Ms Qi has made a great contribution to the cultural richness of American while at the same time building a bridge between East and West.