BEIJING, Feb. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- China's internationally acclaimed film director Zhang Yimou announced here Tuesday that he will debut a historical opera of ancient China "The First Emperor" at the New York Metropolitan Opera House on Dec. 21, this year.
The opera, a historical pageant, will depict the life of Emperor Qin Shi Huang after he unifies the country and then loses the land and the people for his tyranny.
It marks the first time that the 150-year-old opera house will work with a Chinese director and the third cooperation between the directing talent and Oscar-winning composer Tan Dun, also conductor of the musical. Zhang, known for his movies like "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers," made his operatic debut directing Puccini's Turandot at the Forbidden City in Beijing in 1998.
"My directing principle is to tone in with Tan Dun's music. I'll adopt a dichotomy to demonstrate his (the emperor's) historic achievements and faults while probing into the loneliness as a king deep in his mind," said Zhang.
One of the world's biggest singing voices, Placido Domingo, will sing the title role of China's great leader who unifies the country in 221 B.C., but sacrifices the happiness of his daughter, Princess Yue-yang, to be portrayed by Elizabeth Futral and Sarah Coburn.
The tenor is expected to wrap up his singing career after the show.
Zhang is thought to have assembled a strong creative Chinese team for the opera including his old partners Wang Chaoge and Fan Yue, who cooperated with Zhang on his first ever foray into musical "Impression Liu Sanjie".
According to Fan Yue, Chinese factors like the Great Wall and terracotta warriors and horses will be incorporated in stage design "not in a simply replicated way but placed in interlaced spaces".
The Met has praised Fan for his stage effect, saying it is unique and unprecedented.
As a sign of Zhang's return to his trademark grand-cinema directing style, the opera will encompass diverse ways of expression, including those used in movie making, like adding singing of Beijing (Peking) Opera and placing ancient Chinese vases and musical instruments on the stage.
Zhang voice the hope that the opera will suit both refined and popular tastes and draw more young Westerners to go to the opera house and understand Chinese history.
The opera is scheduled to be on show for five or six times at the Met and all the tickets have been sold out in the United States.
It is expected to come to Chinese audiences at a more imposing venue - the Great Wall - in 2008.