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The opera opens with Wu Hsing-Kuo, a Yin Yang Master, performing traditional chant and dance. Thus, the audience is immediately introduced to Eastern theater. Stage director Zhang Yimou had all the performers utilize appropriate Chinese movements and postures as part of the action. Composer Dun combined the Met Orchestra with players of Chinese string and percussion instruments to achieve his desired musical synthesis.

Susanne Mentzer as the Mother and Placido Domingo in the title role of Tan Dun's 'The First Emperor'. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Susanne Mentzer as the Mother and Placido Domingo in the title role of Tan Dun's 'The First Emperor'. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Tenor Plácido Domingo was a tragic Emperor Qin who mesmerized the audience with his robust voice and irresistible charisma. As a powerful ruler, Qin thought he could give his daughter as a reward to the victorious General Wang, sung authoritatively by bass Hai Jian Tian. Princess Yue Yang, however, had a mind of her own and actively seduced composer, Gao Jianli, whom she preferred. The royal daughter was gracefully portrayed and sweetly sung with accurate coloratura by Elizabeth Futral.

A scene from Tan Dun's 'The First Emperor'. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
A scene from Tan Dun's 'The First Emperor'. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

 

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Copyright © 21 January 2007 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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