Taiwanese Man Sings Peking Opera in English

On any ordinary day in Taichung County in Taiwan, 80-year-old Lu Fei can be found sitting on the small balcony outside his house, perfecting his talents as a Peking Opera performer.

But don't be fooled by the traditional Chinese instruments like the erhu, gong and cymbal. Listen closely and you'll realize Lu's version is entirely in English.

Lu said he taught himself a little bit of English after ending his military service in 1959 and later took English classes at a local church.

[Lu Fei, Peking Opera Performer]:
"Maybe I have some spirit in my heart. I participated at the church's English class, and when the class was over, I mean the term was over, somebody had to show their ability of singing or play stuff like that, and they asked me to show. So I said OK, I am kind of a Chinese opera performer."

Lu said by translating the operas into English, perhaps foreigners will find the ancient art more appealing.

As for his musical stylings, Lu is completely self-taught. He has been playing the erhu for more than 30 years now. And although Peking Opera is usually performed by an orchestra of musicians, Lu takes plays all the instruments himself.

Regardless of what passers-by might think of his performance, Lu says he does it for his own satisfaction.

[Lu Fei, Peking Opera Performer]:
"They act funny. Some people they stay a while to listen, and some just pass by. As long as I can play, an old man plays, it doesn't matter, I have my own joy."

Lu sometimes travels to Taipei to perform in front of the tourist-filled Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.

But some say Peking Opera is not meant to be translated, especially into English.

[Leah Kao, Amateur Peking Opera Singer]:
"I think the lyrics to Peking Opera cannot be translated completely to English, the essence of it is difficult to translate, but his singing is very good. I think it is difficult for foreigners to learn Peking Opera, we have a lot of pronunciation that will be hard for foreigners."

For now, Lu is content to play and sing, combining the two things he loves, Peking Opera and the English language.