Sexual Fables
This article accompanies the fable
Life as Opera

Turandot Goes to China

Chinese director Zhang Yimou staged the opera at the Teatro Comunale in Florence in 1997 (with Zubin Mehta) and subsequently outdoors at the Forbidden City in Beijing.  This set up the wonderfully curious situation of a Western fantasy set in imperial China being staged in today’s Imperial City, with a Chinese director interested in the fusion of traditional Chinese and Italian opera.  Zhang Yimou said at the time: “Western opera shares a few similarities with traditional Chinese opera, and I have used very stylized techniques from Beijing drama to make Turandot more Chinese.”  Fortunately the performances were successful despite the subversive political implications of an opera that begins with a bloodbath, in the capital city of a country that still makes generous use of the death penalty.

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