The First Emperor in a theater near you
The Dresser invites you into her dressing room to sit knee to knee for a short chat about The First Emperor, some of which will be gossip.
OPERA ON THE BIG SCREEN IN NEAR YOU
Don’t miss the upcoming opportunity to see a re-broadcast of the January 13 performance of The First Emperor that was done live at the Metropolitan Opera, but also shown in simulcast broadcasts in movie theaters around the United States and Canada that day.
Photo by: Ken Howard
This time there are two dates Wednesday, March 7 at 7 pm and Sunday, March 11 at 1:30 pm. To find a movie theater, visit fathomevents.com and under Upcoming Events click on The Metropolitan Opera Series. Next, click on the little box that shows The First Emperor and then under EVENT INFO, click Theatre Locations. The movie theater locations are alphabetic by state, so scroll through till you find one near you. After finding your movie theater, you need to Google the movie theater name to find its website where you can reserve your tickets online. Yes, it is a little trouble, dear reader, but at $18-$19 you cannot beat the price for an intimate look at a new opera.
The Dresser attended the simulcast on January 13 at FAIRFAX TOWNE CENTER in Virginia and had a wonderful experience sitting in comfortable seats in a theater that was completely sold out. Besides being able to see close ups of Plácido Domingo as the Emperor and Elizabeth Futral as the Emperor’s headstrong daughter, the Dresser could see the Chinese instruments, the Waterphone (such an odd instrument invented by a San Francisco hippy), and Tan Dun conducting the musicians who were chanting as they played! Now tell me, when has anyone ever been in the orchestra pit of an opera during a live performance? Simulcasts might be a better experience than actually being at the Met, no matter how good your seats are. Well, of course, if you like to dress to the nines in silks, diamonds, and shoes made of buttery leather, the movie house is not for you! I went in my jeans.
DID YOU EVER WANT TO BE A DIVA?
Having just seen the film Dreamgirls and learned that Jennifer Hudson, an American Idol finalist, but a contest loser, had to be taught how to act like a diva (The Dresser loved Hudson’s performance both musically and dramatically), the Dresser was reminded that divas need flashy clothes to put their hot personalities across. Zhang Yimou, the director of The First Emperor, hangs with the best costume designers. Yee Chung Man, costume designer for Curse of the Golden Flower, has been nominated for an Oscar.
Photo by: Ms. Bai Xiaoyan
Emi Wada, a renowned costume designer, has worked with Zhang Yimou on the films Hero and The House of the Flying Daggers as well as the opera The First Emperor.
Photos by: Ken Howard
Emi Wada won an Academy Award for Costume Design for her work on Akira Kurosawa’s 1985 film Ran. A friend of the Dresser told her recently that she went to a wedding where the bride’s gown had been designed by Emi Wada. The interesting part of the story is that the bride had a mobility problem similar to the Emperor’s daughter Yueyang who could not walk until she made love with her father’s childhood friend.
Just a sidebar here—composer Janet Peachey said one ought to compare Yueyang's sudden ability to walk to the scene in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors where Amahl gives his crutch to one of the three Kings and then miracle of miracles he can walk. Dr. Peachey said she believed Amahl's miracle but not Yueyang's.
Women fighting over men, men fighting over women, men fighting men are what most of these films and operas have in common. The Dresser offers another poem by the prolific late Hilary Tham. This poem addresses a power struggle between two girls.
THERE ARE NO KUNGFU FIGHTERS IN MY FAMILY TREE
At ten I knew the magic of words like
please and than you. I learned
their darker power from a girl who pushed
me from the last seat on the school bus.
She used words like karate kicks.
“Leh ka ma hai fa kai, leh ka ba hai fun dhung.”
Your mother’s a whore! Your father’s a rice bag.
Yielding the seat, I stared out the window
at the muddy waters of the river we crossed
daily to school, where crocodiles sometimes rose
to swallow in one gulp a woman whole—shoes,
Handbag and frantic eyes.
by Hilary Tham
fom Bad Names For Women