Chinese Opera on Legendary Monk to Debut in New York City

May 12, 2019  By Li Xia  Editor: Sandy Zhu

NEW YORK, May 11 (Xinhua) -- An opera featuring the famous monk Jianzhen of China's Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) will be presented at New York City's Lincoln Center next month, according to local theatrical sources.

Based on true history, "Voyage To The East - A Fearless Buddhist Master's Mission To Japan" told the story of monk Jianzhen, who started sailing to Japan in 742 A.D., but only succeeded in 754 A.D. after five failed attempts. Apart from spreading Buddhism, he also introduced Chinese art, medicine and craftsmanship to Japan, thus becoming a highly respected figure in both nations.

Famous Chinese-American opera singer Tian Haojiang plays Jianzhen in the opera. Tian reportedly has had over 1,400 performances of some 50 roles in all major opera houses worldwide. In order to better depict the role, Tian lived with real monks for some time in Daming Temple of east China's Yangzhou city, where Jianzhen had stayed before embarking on his journey to Japan.

Produced by China's Jiangsu Performing Arts Group, the opera's score is a fusion of modern opera with the original sound of the Japanese koto, the zither, the Chinese guzheng, temple blocks and Buddhist chants.

The opera will be staged on June 22 to 23 at the David H. Koch Theatre of the Lincoln Center.

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