The second outdoor production by Zhang Yimou, entitled Impression Lijiang, is set to debut at the end of July.
Divided into two parts, Snow Mountain Impression and Ancient City Impression, the production, which has cost US$31 million to make, will be staged at the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Dayan Ancient Town, two famous scenic spots in Lijiang, a scenic city in southwestern China.
The production aims to provide an insight into the lives of the region's ethnic groups through song and dance, Zhang's assistant Fan Yue told Xinhua News Agency.
The actors, including 400 local folks in various costumes of 10 ethnic groups and 100 horses, will perform in a theater at foot of the mountain, which is shrouded in mist.
Wang Chaoge, another assistant to Zhang, said they had worried that the audience of the day show would find it hard to be immersed in the performance due to a lack of lighting.
But Zhang himself said after his first view of the rehearsal on Sunday afternoon that they all now feel at ease.
"There's a real feeling of nature. The day show complements the unique local traditional culture. It is incomparable to an indoor or evening show and it will bring a fresh feeling to the audience," Zhang told Xinhua on Sunday evening.
The one-hour rehearsals have been open to audiences since May 1. The pilot performance will be in June and the formal opening in July, Wang said, adding that they are still working on the second half of the production Ancient City Impression, which is set in a World Heritage site.
Zhang, the ace film director in China, has been active in directing other visual art in recent years.
In 2003, Zhang, Wang and Fan created the first installment of their out-door Impression series, Impression Liu Sanjie, in the mountain and river scenery of Yangshuo, a world-renowned scenic resort in south China, which proved a hit at the box office and won praises from the government.
On December 21 this year, Zhang's high-profile opera The First Emperor will premiere at the New York Metropolitan Opera House. The opera will be composed by Oscar winner Tan Dun and feature tenor Placido Domingo. Zhang made his operatic debut directing Puccini's Turandot at the Forbidden City in Beijing in 1998.
(Xinhua News Agency May 8, 2006)