The eight open-air performances took take place on the square in front of the palace which is today called the People's Cultural Palace. This palatial compound is surrounded by gardens and used to be a meeting place of noblemen and an imperial audience venue for the Emperor in past times.

The highly acclaimed Florence Turandot production (Mehta/Yimou, 1997) formed the foundation for these performances. Naturally, the new visual and acoustic challenges provided by the Beijing setting were used to advantage: The chorus and extras were be greatly augmented by over 200 Chinese artists. The stage sets were not only be enlarged but in important aspects, changed and supplemented, to fill the 82-meter-wide venue.

Chinese royal custom played an important role in this production-for example, authentic drums from the Emperor's era were used impressively by a group of over 80 drummers to announce the start of the opera, and large-scale hand-decorated panels covered with red and gold-leaf took the place of a stage curtain.

The acoustic quality of a performance is of particular importance to Maestro Mehta and the finest sound engineers were engaged to provide necessary amplification for the enormous open-air space, including the Sound Director from the Vienna State Opera.

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Photo © Dieter Blum
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