Normally for a new production the Met allows one week in the summer for technical rehearsals ” no orchestra, no singers ” to test the set and design the lighting before standard rehearsals begin. But for this elaborate staging of a sexy, violent, ghost-ridden tale of the Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi‘s unification of China in 221 B.C., which is costing more than $3 million, the Met set aside two weeks.
Among its challenges in staging this opera, the Met is working with a predominantly Chinese, non-English-speaking production team, headed by Mr. Zhang, China’s best-known filmmaker (“Raise the Red Lantern,” “Hero,” “House of Flying Daggers”). Mr. Zhang says he is no fan of Western opera productions. His theatrical visions, as for the only other opera he has directed, nearly a decade ago, are large and bright enough to fill Beijing’s Forbidden City, the foot of a mountain or an Olympic stadium. [Full text]