Selling the allure of a night at the opera

Feng Jun / ChinaFotoPress / Getty

The National Center for the Performing Arts building in Beijing, China

As the principal guest conductor at New York's Metropolitan Opera House for the past decade, maestro Valery Gergiev of the Kirov Opera, part of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, has developed a group of admirers worldwide for the epic Russian operas he has resurrected. Gergiev was scheduled to take the stage at the Met this past Christmas, but then Beijing called. The Chinese wanted him to conduct the opening opera in their country's highest palace of performance, the $40 million National Center for the Performing Arts, which is often referred to by its former name, the National Grand...

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