In Tuesday’s (7/28) Los Angeles Times , Barbara Demick writes from Beijing, “Back in the 1960s and ‘70s, when Italian opera was deemed a capitalist indulgence in China, no work was more despised than Giacomo Puccini’s ‘Turandot.’ Many Chinese thought the opera insulting, with its depiction of a despotic Chinese princess who has her suitors beheaded unless they can answer three riddles. They’re singing a different tune these days. For the 60th anniversary of China’s communist revolution in October, a new production of ‘Turandot’ has been commissioned for the 100,000-seat Bird’s Nest stadium built for last summer’s Olympic Games. Last year, another production of the work had the distinction of being the first opera performed at Beijing’s new National Center for the Performing Arts. In recent years, there have been at least six Chinese productions of ‘Turandot.’ … Other Puccini operas are at the top of the hit parade in China. His ‘Tosca’ opened China’s first bona fide opera festival, held at the new performing arts center from mid-April to early July. … The creative anachronisms are all part of China’s effort to develop a popular audience for opera, figuring that if the country is going to import Western culture, it might as well be high culture.”

Posted July 28, 2009