Zhang, who will become the first-ever Chinese director at the Met with this production, last directed opera in 1998 at the Forbidden City. Though their director confesses to liking but "not really understand[ing]" western opera, Met officials (who are taking Chinese lessons - Zhang apparently does not and will not speak English), noting Zhang's guidance of a Raise the Red Lantern ballet and the operatic qualities of his films, aren't worried. "Like his films, this opera is not going to be static. It's a real story with real characters. And it will look gorgeous."
The production will premiere in New York this December, after which it will tour the US.