Presented November 30, 2012
Tan Dun, director
With the aim of animating Metropolitan Museum galleries in new ways, Met Museum Presents offered one of five performances of the sixteenth-century Kunqu opera masterpiece The Peony Pavilion, in a seventy-minute version developed and directed by celebrated composer Tan Dun with choreography by Huang Doudou, one of China's most prominent dancers, in the Met's Astor Court, the courtyard modeled on a seventeenth-century garden.
The performance was organized in conjunction with the exhibition Chinese Gardens: Palace Pavilions, Scholars' Studios, Rustic Retreats, on view August 18, 2012–January 6, 2013, which explored the rich interactions between pictorial and garden arts in China across more than one thousand years, featuring more than seventy paintings and contemporary photographs as well as ceramics, carved bamboo, lacquerware, metalwork, and textiles drawn from the Museum's collection.
The Peony Pavilion is one of the most important works of classical Chinese opera. A sweeping love story with subplots involving feudalism, the work in its original form consisted of fifty-five acts that take more than twenty hours to perform. This version was directed by Zhang Jun, one of China's most respected Kunqu performers, and remains faithful to the core plot focusing on the love story between the heroine and hero—Du Liniang and Liu Mengmei—and the Peony Pavilion where their love began.