The work was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera and had its world premiere run there this past December and January. Tan Dun himself conducted the production, which was directed by renowned Chinese film director Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern, House of Flying Daggers, Ju Dou, Hero). Plšcido Domingo sang the title role, which was written expressly for him; co-starring were Elizabeth Futral, Michelle DeYoung, Susanne Mentzer, Paul Groves, Hao Jiang Tian, and Beijing Opera virtuoso Wu Hsing-Kuo.
The telecast will be of the January 13 matinee, using the state-of-the-art video and audio recording which was transmitted live into movie theaters as part of the Met's new high-definition simulcast program.
PBS's Great Performances at the Met will air The First Emperor beginning Saturday, March 24, with broadcasts at varying times through next week on various stations — check your local listings.