The Emperor and the Concubine

Sadler's Wells Theatre

19th & 20th October 2018 | 19:30

Box Office: 020 7863 8000

The Emperor and the Concubine is the beautiful love story championed by Peking Opera Master Mei Lanfang. This is one of the very few works from the master Mei Lanfang’s that has been handed down since the 1920s. It showcases perfectly the masterful art of Peking Opera with its elegant and enchanting dance, song, music and drama and represents the outstanding features of Mei School.


The romantic story is based on an historic event in Tang Dynasty when the Emperor Tang Ming Huang who was mourning the death of his adored concubine, the beautiful YANG Yuhuan, a Taoist Nun. They greatly entranced each other, and such was the strength of his passion that the Emperor began to neglect the affairs of state. Consequently the An Lushan rebels saw the opportunity and rose up to conquer the land. A necessary fate follows with a heart-breaking twist.


This production combines the greatest elements of the Peking Opera art form and it is presented at the highest artistic standing of the Mei School by the China National Peking Opera Company.

How to get to Sadler's Wells Theatre

Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN

By Bus

Numbers 19, 38 and 341 travel from the West End to the theatre's own bus stop. Many buses travel from Waterloo, Liverpool Street, Euston and Kings Cross stations to the Angel.

By Tube

Angel (Northern Line City Branch) is a 250-metre walk from Sadler's Wells. Trains run every few minutes northbound to Kings Cross and Euston, and southbound to Bank and London Bridge. For up to date Tube information or to plan your journey, visit Journey Planner.

By Bike

There are plenty of bike racks outside and opposite the theatre. There are several Cycle Hire stations within 5 minutes walk.


By Car

There are no turns into St. John St from Pentonville, City and Goswell Roads. The easiest route is from Pentonville Road into the west side of Claremont Square and down Amwell Street.

Route planner

Transport for London: Journey Planner

The Story...


The Emperor and the Concubine is romantic story based on an historic event in Tang Dynasty. The Emperor, Tang Ming Huang who was mourning the death of his adored concubine, met the beautiful YANG Yuhuan a Taoist Nun, when he was strolling in the palace gardens. Awestruck by her beauty, the Emperor courted Yang and she became his precious concubine. Yang, joyful at the Emperor’s attention and her new status showed her gratitude by performing a rarely seen dance in a rainbow-coloured and feathered costume for him in the Pear Garden. The Emperor was so moved by the dance that greatly honoured her by accompanying her on the drums. This beautiful dance earned Yang enormous prestige and love from the Emperor which her entire family profited from.


However, the Emperor was unpredictable and volatile and suddenly without explanation he exiled Yang. Though, it was not long before, the Emperor deeply regretted his actions, and with help from his trusted advisor Gao Lishi, Yang was welcomed back to the palace. On the eve of Qixi, Chinese Valentine day, the couple vowed to love each other forever.

Such was the strength of his passion for Yang, the Emperor began to neglect the affairs of state. Consequently, the An Lushan rebels saw this as a great opportunity and rose up to conquer the land. However, the Emperor, instead of supporting his nation, fled the fighting with his beloved concubine. His people, greatly angered, believed Yang to be the reason for the rebel attacks and the military demanded the Emperor to execute her and resume his loyalty to the military and his people.

Yang learns the Emperor has been tasked with her murder. However, such is her love for him, instead of escaping she decides to help him resume his full allegiance to his nation and save him the horrendous task of being her executioner. Yang takes her own life.

t. +44 (0)1784 779698 | e.

Captains House | Watermans Court | Kingsbury Crescent | Staines-upon-Thames | TW18 3BA

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