An opera about Chinese nationalist leader Sun Yat-sen has made its world premiere in Hong Kong in front of a less than capacity audience, weeks after its planned debut in Beijing was cancelled.
"Dr Sun Yat-sen" was originally scheduled to have its first performance in the Chinese capital on September 30 ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Sun-led revolution that ended imperial rule in China.
But the cast werSe told weeks before the premiere that Beijing had withdrawn its approval, with observers saying the plot, which focuses on Sun's love life, could be too racy for mainland officials.
Sun is a complicated figure historically. Although he is widely regarded as the father of modern China, his Nationalist Party fought and lost a civil war with the Communist Party that has run China ever since.
His nationalists fled to Taiwan, and Sun has since been part of China's troublesome relationship with Taipei, with the fractious neighbours both considering themselves his intellectual heirs.
Celebrations to mark the October 10 anniversary of Sun's revolution were muted on the mainland.
Reports quoted the Beijing opera venue that was due to host the premiere as saying the cancellation was due to logistical reasons.
The composer's representatives, meanwhile, said officials were unhappy over the music, which was written for Western instruments.
Its premiere in the southern Chinese territory of Hong Kong on Thursday did not go off without a hitch either, after the lead sponsor, Swiss watchmaker Carl F. Bucherer, pulled out of the project.
And although city officials said they were happy with box office sales for the premiere, around 300 seats at the 1,500-seat venue were left empty.
The two-hour opera, which is being performed with Chinese instruments in Hong Kong, is scheduled to run until Sunday.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, has enjoyed a semi-autonomous status since its return to Chinese rule in 1997, with its own political and legal system.