The relative rarity of world premieres at the Metropolitan Opera does not alone explain the buildup of good will, genuine excitement and high expectation over “The First Emperor,” the opera by the Chinese-American composer Tan Dun, which had its premiere on Thursday night, conducted by the composer.
Over the years Mr. Tan has drawn new audiences to classical music with eclectic works that find common ground between Asian traditions and the avant-garde. His ferociously propulsive film score for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” won him both an Oscar and a pop-culture following. Zhang Yimou, the Chinese director of this production, best known for his popular film “House of Flying Daggers,” also adds luster to the project. And Pl√°cido Domingo, by taking on the title role, the first role he has created in his 38 years at the Met, contributes his formidable star power….[Full Text]