Back in 1997, Zhang Yimou ventured for the first time outside of the film industry. He joined forces with conductor Zubin Mehta to stage the western classic opera "Turandot" in the Italian city of Florence. Needless to say, the show was an enormous success. The following year, Zhang brought the production to China and staged the opera at the Ancestral Temple, which borders the Forbidden City.
Over the years, the show has dazzled audiences in many more cities around the world. Now, it's time for the show to return to China, but not in its original form. This time, the production is enhanced to match the granduer of its gigantic venue the "Bird's Nest". The visual spectacular will be a cultural feast for Beijing during the National Day holiday.
Zhang Yimou is a master at creating a ceremony to remember. He was the director of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games a feat that made his name synonymous with "stunning visual effects". Now, he is bringing a new surprise to his fellow countrymen, with his version of the famous western classic, "Turandot".
The Bird's Nest is itself a spectacular venue. And with Zhang at the helm of the same team that put together the Olympic opening ceremony, the production promises to be a sensory feast for the audience in Beijing.
The story of Turandot first comes from a collection of 17th-century Persian stories called "The Book of One Thousand and One Days." Then it was adapted into a play by Carlo Gozzi.
Around 1910, Giacomo Puccini heard the Chinese folk song "Jasmine Flower". The tune inspired him to create an opera containing Chinese elements. "Turandot" was the result based on Gozzi's play about a Chinese princess and a Tartary prince.
Critics say Zhang has toppled down many previous versions of Turandot, using flamboyant, fiery and bright colors, and grand scenes, replacing the previous blue and grey hues used in western versions. With bold use of Chinese elements on stage, costumes and props, Zhang has created a brand new Turandot.