Women's Activism NYC

Xiaodong Meng

1908 - 1977

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Xiaodong Meng was a remarkable Chinese actress specializing in old sheng (male) roles in Peking opera. Born on December 9, 1908, in Shanghai County during the Qing Dynasty, Meng's talent and dedication to her craft made her a prominent figure in the world of Chinese opera. Meng's career intertwined with the life of renowned Peking opera performer Mei Lanfang. In 1925, they co-starred in the film "You long xi feng" (游⻰戏凤), marking the beginning of their professional collaboration. In 1927, Meng became Mei's concubine, despite him already having two wives. Their relationship faced challenges, with a temporary breakup in 1931 due to family disputes. However, they reunited briefly before officially parting ways in the same year. Following the dissolution of her relationship with Mei, Xiaodong Meng continued to make significant contributions to the world of Peking opera. In 1949, she relocated to British Hong Kong with Du Yuesheng, a prominent figure in the city. They married in 1950, and Meng withdrew from the stage, devoting herself to her new role as Du's concubine. Tragedy struck in 1952 when Du passed away. Meng remained in Hong Kong until 1966 when she immigrated to Taiwan due to the Cultural Revolution. She spent the rest of her life in Taipei, where she passed away on May 26, 1977, at the age of 68. Her legacy lives on through the Meng Xiaodong National Theatre Scholarship Foundation, which grants scholarships to promising Peking opera talents in Taiwan. Xiaodong Meng's extraordinary talent, particularly in her portrayal of old sheng roles, and her contributions to Peking opera have left an indelible mark in the realm of Chinese performing arts. Her dedication and artistry continue to inspire generations of opera enthusiasts and serve as a testament to her enduring influence.

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