Zhou Xiaoyan was one of China's greatest sopranos, and
a pioneer in coloratura technique. She was born in Wuhan, Hubei in
1918. Her wealthy father encouraged her from an early age, and in 1935,
she entered Shanghai Guoli Professional Training School, majoring in
vocal music. However, in 1937, owing to the Sino-Japan War and the
bombing of the school, she had to quit, and came back to her hometown.
At the end of 1938, she went to France, and entered the Paris Russia
Conservatory of Music.
In October 1945, after seven years hardworking, Zhou Xiaoyan finally stood on the stage of Paris National Opera. On her first performance, her outstanding skills and beautiful voice conquered French audience. Later, she was invited to Czechoslovakia to participate in the Spring of Prague Concert. Her performance was very successful and she was named the "Chinese Nightingale". In October 1947, Zhou Xiaoyan returned to China, after 9 years away.