The sets and costumes for The Peony Pavilion, a 16th-century Chinese opera that is to be the centerpiece of the 1998 Lincoln Center Festival, are being held by Chinese authorities in Shanghai, the Associated Press has reported. The Shanghai Kunju Opera Company production, which was paid for by Lincoln Center, was to have left China for the U.S. June 18. The Municipal Bureau of Culture held back the shipment, however. No official reason was given, said festival director Neil Redden, but the 1598 work by Tang Xianxu has been long censored in China. The erotic story concerns a young woman who meets her lover in a dream.
The first part of the 22-hour production is scheduled to opened the festival on July 7 at the LaGuardia Theater. Redden hope to get the materials on a plane by Sunday, June 21. To aid the festival's cause, Lincoln Center Chairperson Beverly Sill has contacted former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, long an intimate with Chinese officials.
-- By Robert Simonson