NEW YORK: He is staging what has been billed as The Metropolitan Opera's (Met) most elaborate production since 2002, but Zhang Yimou concedes that the job is less of a pressure compared to directing the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“Right after this (opera), I will be heading back to China to prepare for the Olympics,” said the acclaimed filmmaker, who is the main director of the Games' opening and closing ceremonies.
Among those in the prominent team are bigwigs Stephen Spielberg, Ang Lee and Quincy Jones.
Zhang said the Chinese were having very high expectations of the Olympics as it would place the country on the world stage.
“We have to show that we are the same as everybody else,” he said during a talk at Columbia University here.
But for now, Zhang is heading the production of the epic opera The First Emperor, which will have a world premiere here on Dec 21.
Placido Domingo will sing the title role in the opera composed and conducted by Tan Dun, the 49-year-old Grammy and Oscar-winning composer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Zhang pointed out the different role he had in staging The First Emperor.
“Here, the music comes first. I cannot behave like a movie director. I personally like Tan Dun and I admire his work a lot,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.
Tan is only the fifth man in the 123-year history of the Met to conduct his own opera.
He co-authored the libretto of The First Emperor with writer Ha Jin, best known for his novel Waiting.
The three-hour opera, which runs till Jan 25, features Domingo in the role of Qin Shi Huangdi who built the Great Wall of China.