“Illustrated Edition of Bao Zheng’s Trials of A Hundred Legal Cases” (“Bao Zheng’s Cases” in short) published in 1595 had already had the story of Chen Shimei whose children’s names were as the same as they are in the traditional opera.
The story of Beijing opera “Chen Shimei’s Beheading Case”：
In Song Dynasty, Chen Shimei placed first in the imperial examination and was awarded to be the son-in-law of the Emperor. However, when his original wife Qin Xianglian came to the capital with their children to look for him, Chen Shimei not only claimed not knowing them, but ordered his bodyguard Han Qi to kill them. However, when Qin Xianglian cried and told the truth, Han Qi could not kill them but killed himself in Sanguantang. Qin Xianglian went to Bao Zheng to sue Chen Shimei. Bao Zheng planned to have Qin confront Chen. Chen took himself as the Emperor’s relative for granted and refused to tell the truth. When Bao Zheng was going to behead him, the Queen Mother and the Princess came to stop him. But Bao Zheng ignored it and beheaded Chen Shimei.
After the foundation of PRC, Changchun Film Studio produced colourful opera film “Qin Xianglian” in 1964 to preserve the stage craft of Beijing opera performing artists such as Junqiu Zhang, Lianliang Ma, Duokui Li and Shengrong Qiu.
- “A Hundred Legal Cases of Bao Zheng’s Cases”, Chapter 26, ‘Qing Xianglian’s Revial from the Death’
- "China National Peking Opera Company". Retrieved August 15, 2010.
- "full length video of this opera with background in English". Retrieved October 9, 2012.