Yi Qian

In 1999, Qian Yi was cast in the lead role of Lincoln Center Festival’s epic 19-hour production of The Peony Pavilion. The production toured internationally, playing at major international festivals in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Her performance has been widely acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, garnering such superlatives as “radiant” (New York Times), “incomparable” (Wall Street Journal), and “spellbinding” (New York Magazine). 

Since coming to the US, she has starred in numerous re-workings of Chinese opera for a western theater context, including Ghost Lovers (Spoleto USA), The Orphan of Zhao (Lincoln Center), and Snow in June (American Repertory Theater). In addition, she has been exploring western theater, working with directors such as Meredith Monk and Karin Coonrad. In 2008, she had her western opera premiere, singing a leading role in the San Francisco Opera’s new production of Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter's Daughter. Qian has written two plays, A Robe for the Moon and Fox Spirit. The former was performed at the Kennedy Center Page to Stage New Play Festival. 

Qian Yi continues to perform Chinese opera. Most recently, she starred in the Contemporary Legend Theatre’s The Butterfly Dream, which premiered at Taiwan’s National Theater as part of its 20th anniversary celebration. She also starred in The Eternal Palace, which was performed in venues across the United States, including the Smithsonian Freer & Sackler Galleries. In addition to these performances, she has brought her knowledge of Chinese traditional theater to American audiences in an academic context. She taught Chinese Opera movement at Barnard College, Columbia University, and has given numerous lectures and demonstrations at universities and museums around the country. 

Qian Yi is a unique performer to explore the title role of this production. She was the most acclaimed Kunqu star that China had produced in several decades at the time that she received great recognition for her role as Du Liniang in the legendary 1998 Lincoln Center Festival’s The Peony Pavilion. However due to the political controversy caused by the performance, she never performed in Mainland China again. Years of participation in contemporary and western performances have led her to a deeper understanding for the essence of Kunqu, allowing her to bring crucial and much needed freshness to the art form. Secondly, because of the demand for a wide vocal range to activate and engage the lover character, her experience in contemporary theatre, spirit of exploration while having a firm command of the classic art form are rare qualities that cannot be underestimated.

Event Title
Date & Time
  • Mon. Nov 4, 12:00 pm
  • Tue. Nov 5, 12:00 pm
  • Wed. Nov 6, 12:00 pm
  • Thu. Nov 7, 12:00 pm
  • Fri. Nov 8, 3:00 pm
  • Sat. Nov 9, 3:00 pm
  • Tue. Nov 12, 6:00 pm
Paradise Interrupted, a contemporary Kunqu opera that is a work in development, is presented as a three-part artist residency at the Performa Institute.