The First Emperor Edit

Stage Opera (2006)
Composer: Tan Dun, Libretto: Ha Jin and Tan Dun.


Adapted from the screenplay The Emperor's Shadow by Lu Wei, the story is taken from The Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian. Emperor Qin, the first emperor of China, attempts to persuade a childhood friend, Gao Jianli, to compose a new national anthem to glorify his empire. However, not only is Jianli's village devastated by the ruthless emperor in his attempt to unify China, but his mother is violently killed, and his fellow citizens enslaved. Thus Jianli refuses to compose the anthem and goes on a hunger strike. The Emperor asks his own daugher to persuade Jianli to finish writing the anthem, and the two of them fall in love. The anthem never gets written, and instead, Jianli writes the music sung by slaves building the great wall of China.


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Asia Society Videos
Tan Dun
Choreographer Huang Dou Dou demonstrating dance
Tan Dun and Rachel Cooper at the Asia Society.
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