Qian Yi began her study of classical kunqu at the Shanghai Chinese Opera School at the age of ten. At the age of twenty, Qian received the Outstanding New Orchid Buds Award, given by the Chinese Ministry of Culture to young performers. In 1998, Qian Yi was cast in the lead role of Lincoln Center Festival’s epic nineteen-hour production of The Peony Pavilion, which played at major international festivals in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The New York Times wrote “(Qian Yi) is now China's reigning opera princess, and in the Peony Pavilion her talents are in full flower.“ In 2008, Qian Yi made her debut in western opera, singing the title role in the San Francisco Opera’s new production of Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter. 2015 Qian Yi sings the lead role the descended woman in composer Huang Ruo and Artist Jennifer Ma’s new opera Paradise Interrupted produced and premiered at the Spoleto Festival, new york premier at Lincoln Center Festival 2016, and follow by the asian premiere at the Singapore Art Festival. Since coming to the U.S., Qian Yi has continued to work in classical Chinese theater, while also starring in numerous adaptations of Chinese opera in the context of western theater, including Ghost Lovers (Spoleto USA), The Orphan of Zhao (Lincoln Center Festival), and Snow in June (American Repertory Theater). wrote and produced a play A Robe for the Moon in 2006 at The Kennedy Center Page to Stage Festival. In 2013, Qian Yi also created and produced a Contemporary Chinese musical theater Dreaming of the Phoenix for The Smithsonian Museum Freer Gallery of Art.