France apparently doesn't get any better treatment at the hands of Chinese culture officials than does the U.S. Last summer, the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Culture threw a wrench in the works of the Lincoln Center Festival 98 when it prevented a scheduled production of the opera The Peony Pavilion from leaving the country. Now, Chinese authorities have denied the same show passage to France for the Paris Autumn Festival.
The New York Times quoted the Paris festival on Sept. 22 as stating, "Despite the many endeavors made by the Paris Autumn Festival and French authorities at the very highest level, the Shanghai Municipal Culture Bureau...has maintained its opposition to the production and made it impossible for the 53 members of the Shanghai Kunqu Company to come to France."
As it did in the U.S. case, the bureau termed the 20-hour, 16th-century Chinese opera "feudal," "ignorant" and "pornographic." The 1598 work by Tang Xianxu, which tells the erotic story of a young woman who meets her lover in a dream, has been long censored in China.
Despite extensive attempts to appease Chinese officials, The Lincoln Center Festival eventually went without The Peony Pavilion, which was to have been the centerpiece of the 1998 event.
-- By Robert Simonson