Guoyuan Liu

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Comparative Literature


Dr. Anthony Purdy


This thesis presents a comparative study of three opera productions: Chinese American director Chen Shi-Zheng’s production of a sixteenth-century Chinese Kunju opera, The Peony Pavilion, in New York; Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s production of Turandot in the Forbidden City of Beijing; and French director Frédéric Mitterrand's opera film Madame Butterfly. Treating these productions as cross-cultural and transmedial events, the thesis investigates the problematic of the “real” and the “verisimilar” in their embodiments of “place” by plotting the way “place” is discursively formed through a coding-decoding interaction between the production and the spectator. It further explores the paradoxes and myths of spaces and places in these productions by considering that which brings together the embodied form of drama fiction and the spectator’s world of reality as a fantasy of place—at once a place for fantasy and fantasy as a place. This fantasy of place is captured by the term “scene”—the place for the drama to be “put” as in mise-en-scène. Based on my investigations, I argue that spatial relationships function as a symbolic system of cultural conventions that determine our practice of everyday life.



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