Opera on the Harbor’s Chen Shi-Zheng on Maoist China and Turandot


In Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot, the ice-begirdled Princess Turandot dismisses the crowd’s pleas for mercy and the executioner’s scimitar descends on the neck of the Prince of Persia. The cruelty of the princess is conveyed in stormy B-flat minor.

According to the vision of Chinese-born director Chen Shi-Zheng, who will direct Turandot for Opera on the Harbor in 2016, these scenes contain the potential for great beauty and majesty.

“In China, execution is a ceremony,” Chen says, speaking in a coffee shop in New York, where he has lived and worked since 1987. “It’s about life as much as it’s about death. There can be something beautiful and special about it.”

To read the full story, please visit the Sydney Morning Herald.

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