Shanghai Opera checks in at English National Opera

Shanghai Opera checks in at English National Opera


norman lebrecht

June 16, 2016

It has just been announced that Shanghai Opera have booked the London Coliseum, home of English National Opera, in August.

We are going to see a lot more of this kind of thing.


coliseum eno

press release:

Shanghai Opera House make their UK debut – presenting the European premiere ofThunderstorm, based on the famous Chinese drama by Cao Yu

Following a successful visit to the London Coliseum by Shanghai Ballet in 2015, Shanghai Opera House make their UK debut with four performances of Thunderstorm, an opera by Chinese composer MO Fan, based on the famous play written by CAO Yu. Conducted byZHANG Guoyong and directed by ZHA Mingzhe, Thunderstorm opens at the London Coliseum on Thursday 11 August for four performances.

Thunderstorm began life as a play, written by CAO Yu and premiered in 1935. It is one of the most popular Chinese dramatic works of the period. The story unfolds in the space of one day and centres around the disastrous effects of rigid traditionalism and hypocrisy on the wealthy, modern Zhou family. The operatic version of Thunderstorm was premiered in May 2006 at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center to celebrate Shanghai Opera House’s 50th anniversary. The performances at the London Coliseum mark the European premiere of Thunderstorm.

ZHOU Puyuan, master of the Family of Zhou has a son ZHOU Chong with his wife Fanyi, but his elder son ZHOU Ping was born by his former maid Shiping. Fed up with her imperious husband, Fanyi starts an affair with ZHOU Ping her stepson. The fearful ZHOU Ping seeks solace in his relationship with Sifeng the young maid, who then becomes pregnant. One evening during a thunderstorm, Shiping comes to the family house by accident, and then it becomes clear that she is also the mother of Sifeng. Sifeng, finding it hard to accept that her lover is in fact her brother, runs into the thunderstorm and is stuck by lightning. ZHOU Chong, who has always been Sifeng’s secret admirer, dashes out to save her but is also killed instantly. ZHOU Ping kills himself in despair, while Fanyi and Shiping become mad. ZHOU Puyuan loses his whole family within one day.

Composer and librettist MO Fan has written a wide variety of works including operas, dance dramas, cantatas, tone poems and concertos. His works have been performed across Europe and Asia. MO Fan has twice been the recipient of the prestigious Wenhua Prize – winning forThunderstorm at the 8th China Arts Festival in 2007 and for another opera Tu Lou in 2013 at the 10th China Arts Festival in 2013.

Vice President of the National Theatre in China, ZHA Mingzhe is one of China’s most accomplished directors. Known for his moving portrayals of the ordinary lives of Chinese people, ZHA Mingzhe has won many national awards, including “Excellent Director in the New Century” by the Chinese Dramatists Association and the magazine Chinese Theater in 2005.

ZHANG Guoyong is the Principal Conductor of Shanghai Opera House, Professor and Dean of Conducting at Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Vice Chairman of the China Musicians Association. He has conducted throughout Europe and Asia including with Russian State Orchestra, Russian Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic and Hong Kong Philharmonic and is an expert in Russian works, especially the music of Shostakovich. In 2006, he was invited to sit on the jury of the 8th Cadaques International Conducting Competition.



  • V.Lind says:

    And what’s wrong with that? It’s a rental, nothing to do with ENO. Proceeds negotiated (rent, percentage of house) will presumably go to ENO which, from what I hear, needs the dosh. Ushers and other technnical staff will have some employment at Shanghai’s expense. presumably.

    Would ENO have been presenting something at this point? If not, why not take advantage of their useful facility to earn some revenue? Other houses do it.