San Francisco Opera to Present DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER World Premiere
San Francisco Opera today announced additional details for the Company's world premiere commission DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER by renowned Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng, opening at the War Memorial Opera House on September 10, 2016.
Based on the book DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER (also known as The Story of the Stone) by 18th-century Qing Dynasty writer Cao Xueqin-considered one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature-the opera in two acts features an English-language libretto by the composer and acclaimed playwright David Henry Hwang, winner of the 1988 Broadway Tony Award for Best Play for M. Butterfly.
Iconic Taiwanese stage director Stan Lai, one of the most celebrated playwright/directors in Asia, makes his Company debut with this adaptation for the opera stage. Academy Award-winning art director and designer Tim Yip joins the creative team as production designer. Yip received the Oscar for his art direction of Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), as well as a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for the film's costume design. American maestro George Manahan, acclaimed for his advocacy of new works, will conduct the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus for the six performances running September 10-29.
Bright Sheng, Stan Lai and Tim Yip joined San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley to share artistic and production design details of the new work at a press conference held today at the War Memorial Opera House.
The DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER cast was also announced today. An array of established and rising Asian singers will star in the world premiere, including Chinese tenor Yijie Shi (in the role of Bao Yu); South Korean soprano Pureum Jo (Dai Yu); Chinese mezzo-soprano and current San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Nian Wang (Bao Chai); in her U.S. debut, Chinese contralto Qiulin Zhang (Granny Jia); South Korean mezzo-soprano Hyona Kim (Lady Wang); Taiwanese soprano and Merola Opera Program alumna Karen Chia-Ling Ho (Princess Jia); and Chinese-American mezzo-soprano and San Francisco Opera veteran from 1990 to 1993, Yanyu Guo (Aunt Xue).
Cao Xueqin's novel, a masterpiece of Chinese fiction, is a detailed, episodic record of the lives of the members of the Jia Clan, whose good fortune is assured when one of its daughters becomes an imperial concubine, and then declines after her downfall. The story centers on a love triangle consisting of the main character, Bao Yu, his beautiful cousin Dai Yu, and his future wife, another beautiful cousin named Bao Chai. Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang have adapted the novel with a focus on eight central characters to tell the tale of the illustrious Jia Clan and trace the Jias' fall from the height of their prestige. Xueqin's original story, often considered semi-autobiographical, is framed by Sheng and Hwang with a prologue and epilogue led by The Monk, who may be the author himself.
The commission of DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER was initiated and funded by the Chinese Heritage Foundation Friends of Minnesota, with leadership support from the Dr. M. F. Tchou Memorial Fund of the Chinese Heritage Foundation, Benjamin Y. H. and Helen C. Liu, and Ruth Stricker and the late Bruce Dayton.