In June of 1986, the renowned tenor Luciano Pavarotti traveled to China with the Genoa Opera. As guests of the Central Opera Theatre and the Ministry of Culture, the Company performed La bohème and gave several recitals of 19th century Italian songs. The superstar of the opera world commanded tremendous attention and adulation wherever he went in Beijing.
The Center played a central role in facilitating Pavarotti’s visit with the Chinese government and planning his itinerary. It was also instrumental in helping an American filmmaking team document Pavarotti’s trip, resulting in a feature film titled, Distant Harmony. The film, co-produced by John Goberman, Daniel Wigutow, and DeWitt Sage, and directed by Mr. Sage, shows the singer not only performing, but also exploring the streets of Beijing and interacting with students and faculty at Chinese conservatories. The climax comes with Mr. Pavarotti, glistening white handkerchief unfurled, treating an audience of 10,000 at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to “Come Back to Sorrento.” The film offers movie-goers the chance to witness the extraordinary encounter between a China open to the West and one of the West’s most famous artists.