Shuyuan Li has been a Beijing Opera performing artist for over forty years and is a fourth generation artist in this tradition. At age 10, she started receiving vigorous, standard, traditional training in all aspects of Beijing opera under the tutelage of her family. Her father, Li Wuanchun, was a well-established virtuoso of Beijing Opera in China. His performance style became the well-known “Li School.” Her mother, Li Yanxiu, was a disciple of the Shang School, one of the four major female schools. Her elder brother, Li Xiaochun, was also a distinguished Beijing opera performing artist. Her training included the best of what the Li School and the Shang School could offer. She developed strong combined skills in singing, acting, dancing, and martial arts performance. Her repertoire now includes over fifty traditional and modern Beijing operas, including, “Farewell My Concubine,””The Legend of the White Snake,” “Princess Wang Zhaojun,””Burning the Eastern Palace,” “Shajia Creek,” and many others. She has played the leading female roles in all of these operas.
In general, she specializes in characters who are mostly middle-aged females, parts requiring a combination of singing, dancing, and martial arts skills. Ms. Li has devoted her whole life to Beijing Opera and over the years has won many awards and titles, including being named a National Level Beijing Opera Performing Artist in China, Member of the Chinese National Drama/Opera Association, Vice Chairperson of Nanjing Beijing Opera Association, Member of the Nanjing Political Council, and various performing artist Awards in 1990, 1994, and 1995 respectively. Since coming to the Philadelphia area, Ms. Li has been involved in founding the Philadelphia Chinese Opera Society, through which she both teaches and performs. She has received grants and awards from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the New Jersey Council on the Arts (both for apprenticeships with younger artists), and Dance Advance.