An opera that should have premiered this week in Beijing has been cancelled, according to its promoter, ‘for political reasons’.
The opera deals with the life of the nationalist leader Sun Yat-Sen, who is anathema to the Communist regime. It was always a delicate proposition.
Its composer, Huang Ruo, is represented by Karsten Witt music management in Berlin. Their statement on the cancellation says that the western-instrument production was ‘cancelled at short notice due to political reasons’. The management is seeking another venue for the world premiere.
A journalist in Beijing tells me that an official postponement had been ascribed to “technical difficulties in the vocal and orchestral score”; the production has been replaced by a work called Chinese Orphan.
The impresario has messaged this site to say that the Chinese-instrument version of the opera is still going ahead in Hong Kong on October 13.
Meanwhile, I hear privately from someone who was present at the first rehearsal in Beijing that the reason for cancelling the western-instrument was that one senior official decided, there and then, that the music was ‘too modern’ for senior Party cadres, who were due to attend the opera, which marks the centenary of the Chinese Republic. More information is still coming in.
Here is an advance report on the opera and its first act, previewed in New York in May.