- Colin Mackerras
(b Beijing, Jan 4, 1904; d Beijing, March 9, 1958). Chinese Beijing opera actor. He was a specialist in dan (female) roles. Cheng's brightest period on the stage was from 1919 until the late 1930s, but he gave more time to teaching from the mid-1930s on. He went abroad several times, notably to Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland in 1932 and 1933 to study Western opera. After the Communists came to power, he devoted himself more to administration and teaching than acting and joined the Communist Party in 1957.
Although mainly a performer of traditional opera, Cheng was adept at creating his own melodies and acted in many newly written operas, especially those featuring new ideas about women of the past. He was one of the four great actors of female roles (sida mingdan). As a singer, his voice was deeper than usual for dan actors, his genius lying in the representation of tragic figures....