Photo of the Week:
Fusion-Vision Peony Pavilion
Lin Qiang Xu and soprano Ying Huang play
star-cross'd lovers in director Peter Sellars'
avant-garde production of the kun opera Peony
Pavilion -- which saw its U.S. premiere in
Zellerbach Hall Friday, March 5.
by Bay Area cultural critics as the music-theater
event of the season, Cal Performances' presentation
combined traditional elements of the 16th-century
classic with closed-circuit TVs, English
supertitles, post-modern stage design and western
orchestral, rock and experimental sounds by New
York-based composer Tan Dun.
performers played the opera's tragic pair -- among
them former Shanghai opera star Madame Hua Wenyi.
In a pre-performance talk, Sellars described Hua's
urgent desire to preserve the tradition by
invigorating it with contemporary elements. "It
must be new!" was her frequent refrain, he
the stage with Sellars, the cast and musicians for
the standing ovation following the American
premiere was Cyril Birch, professor emeritus of
Chinese and comparative literature and languages.
Birch translated the Ming classic into English more
than 30 years ago and worked with Sellars to pare
Tang Xianzu's 55-scene masterpiece down to modern