Stories » How Pavarotti helped this Chinese opera singer find his groove / NEW YORK POST

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How Pavarotti helped this Chinese opera singer find his groove / NEW YORK POST

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Hao Jiang Tian saw his first opera in 1983. It was the day he arrived from China with four words of English (hello, OK, bye, yes) and $35 in his pocket. An aspiring singer, he spent $8 of it on a standing-room ticket at the Met, where Luciano Pavarotti was performing. "It knocked me out!" Tian says. Now, 36 years and 20 Met seasons of his own later, the Beijing-born bass is headlining a Chinese production, "Voyage to the East." Sung in Mandarin, with English subtitles, by a cast of 200, it's a contemporary opera about a Buddhist monk who lived 1,200 years ago. "I only knew his name," Tian, 64, says of Jianzhen, the Tang Dynasty holy man who brought Buddhism to Japan. Fraught with shipwrecks and other tragedies, the voyage took 12 years. By the time the monk arrived in Japan, he was over 60 and blind.

"Voyage to the East," Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater
photo: Everett Collection; Wang Xiaojing

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