Buddha Passion by Tan Dun – Abu Dhabi Festival 2023

The Abu Dhabi Festival 2023 presents Tan Dun’s ‘Buddha Passion’, a 95-minute oratorio that will be performed on March 18th at the Emirates Palace Auditorium in Abu Dhabi, UAE, by the Orchestra Filarmonica Del teatro Comunale di Modena conducted by Tan Dun, with special guest artists.

Buddha Passion by Tan Dun - Abu Dhabi Festival 2023


Official description:

Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun, renowned for his ability to span the boundaries of classical music and Eastern and Western traditions, is considered one of the most prominent figures of “world classical” music. His Buddha Passion, which can also be staged as an opera, is a 95-minute oratorio illustrating six Buddha parables and stories, with the sixth being the Buddha’s ascension into Nirvana.  Structured in six acts, Buddha Passion captures the ancient narratives of the Buddha’s teachings and the timeless, universal concepts of love, forgiveness and sacrifice, summarising the stories portrayed on the walls of the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang in an exceptionally unique musical work.


Stirred by the city of Dunhuang and its ancient caves, Tan Dun created a powerful score that weaves chants, stories and sounds into a breathtaking vocal masterpiece, capturing the Buddha’s teachings and timeless concepts of love, forgiveness, sacrifice and salvation.


Buddha Passion unfolds over six acts. It begins with a mural alluding to Buddha’s moment of nirvana. A little prince learns all lives are equal while a man reaps the fruits of karma after betraying the Deer of Nine Colours. Princess Miaoshan’s sacrifice transmutes into the ultimate symbol of compassion, while a Zen Master and lowly woodcutter debate on the true meaning of Zen. In a chance encounter on the Silk Road, a minstrel monk finds himself inexorably drawn to the fate of a dying woman. Shimmering with mythic grace, Buddha Passion incarnates the timeless message of peace, compassion and gentleness and is a thrilling musical achievement not to be missed.



  • Orchestra Filarmonica Del teatro Comunale di Modena
  • Tan Dun Conductor
  • Lei Xu Sopano & Vocals
  • Megan Moore Mezzo-soprano
  • Yi Li Tenor
  • Elliot Madore Baritone
  • Batubagen Vocals
  • Chen Yining Pipa (Chinese Luth)




NOTE: The previous day, Tan Dun will also conduct the Orchestra Filarmonica Del teatro Comunale di Modena in a concert entitled ‘From West To East: A Classical Odyssey’ which will include his piece ‘Concerto for Pipa and Strings’, together with classical music by Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Mussorgsky, and Ravel:



More information about the Abu Dhabi Festival 2023: