Last week, New York's China Institute hosted a discussion by Senior Lecturer Ben Wang and a performance of classical vignettes by Yang Yu Bao, the “Singing Delivery Man,” the subject of a recent profile by the New York Daily News. The lecture and performance was inspired by an image in the China Institute's current Chinese woodcut exhibit as well as the institute's sponsorship of Peking Opera star Mei Lanfang’s New York tour in 1930. Ben Wang began by describing how he first heard Peking Opera in the form of one of Mei’s records and grew to love it. After briefly discussing the history of Peking Opera, Wang introduced Yang Yu Bao, a performer that Wang considers one of the best he's ever seen.
Growing up in Tianjin, a traditional epicenter of traditional Chinese opera, Yang Yu Bao began learning the art form from a relative at a young age. After moving to the US in 2002 and starting a job at the China Fun Restaurant in 2006, Yang's talent was discovered at a restaurant talent show. At the China Institute, Yang Yu Bao performed three traditional vignettes, but humbly accommodated encore requests. Accompanied by a Jinghu and a moon lute, Yang Yu Bao's songs included the customer favorite, “Ganlu Temple.”
Yang told the audience that he intends to continue singing for his customers and introducing Chinese culture to American audiences.