Farewell My Concubine (play)

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Farewell My Concubine

Farewell My Concubine (Chinese: 霸王别姬; pinyin: Bà Wáng Bié Jī) is a Peking opera. A more literal translation of the Chinese title is The Hegemon-King bids his concubine farewell.[1] It was initially performed by Yang Xiaolou(Chinese: 杨小楼) and Shang Xiaoyun(Chinese: 尚小云) in 1918 in Beijing.

The play tells the story of Xiang Yu, the self-styled "Hegemon-King of Western Chu" who battled for the unification of China with Liu Bang, the eventual founder of the Han Dynasty. In the play, Xiang Yu is surrounded by Liu Bang's forces and on the verge of total defeat, so he calls forth his horse and begs it to run away for the sake of its own safety. The horse refuses, against his wishes. He then calls for the company of his favorite concubine, Consort Yu. Realizing the dire situation that has befallen them, she begs to die alongside her master, but he strongly refuses this wish. Afterwards, as he is distracted, Yu commits suicide with Xiang Yu's sword.

The novel Farewell My Concubine by Lilian Lee and its film adaptation of the same name use the play as part of their stories.


  1. ^ William Dolby, Eight Chinese Plays from the Thirteenth Century to the Present (London: P. Elek; New York: Columbia University Press, 1978).