Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER

On April 23rd, the New-York Historical Society's latest installment of the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Distinguished Speakers Series showcased An American Soldier, a two-act opera composed by Huang Ruo, featuring a libretto by David Henry Hwang, in the Robert H. Smith Auditorium at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024.

Louise Mirrer, Ph.D., president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, introduced the program. Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang moderated an intimate conversation with Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang, exploring their highly acclaimed work, which was hailed by the New York Times as among the Best Classical Music of 2018.

Exclusively for New-York Historical, this special event also included a performance of powerful excerpts from the opera featuring Tenor Andrew Stenson as Danny Chen, Soprano Fang-Tao Jiang as his friend Josephine Young and Guang Yang as Danny's mother, accompanied by Shelley Monroe Huang on bassoon and Steve Buck on piano.

An American Soldier is based on the true story of the tragic death of 19-year-old Army Private Danny Chen, whose death while serving in Afghanistan led to President Obama signing into law a bill designated to combat military hazing. The son of Chinese immigrants and a proud American, Chen enlists in the US Army in 2011, eager to serve his country. In boot camp, Danny is welcomed by his band of brothers. But in Afghanistan, his own base becomes enemy territory as military hazing turns deadly. This opera addresses issues of patriotism, cultural identity, belonging, and otherness - and asks powerful questions about what it means to be an American.

A one-act chamber version of the opera was commissioned by Washington National Opera and premiered at the Kennedy Center in 2014 as part of WNO's American Opera Initiative. Of this production, The Washington Post praised, "Ruo interleaves his score with a range of arresting sounds, woven into the fabric of the music - the sound of half-tuneless air blowing on the flute; an otherwordly, theremin-like effect from the brass... the quasi-Asian effects offer not only textural richness but also an evocative illustration of the challenges Chen faced trying to blend his Chinese and American identities."

In 2018, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis presented the world premiere of the expanded full-length version of An American Soldier at the Loretto-Hilton Center.

Huang Ruo is an award-winning composer and conductor whose works have premiered and been performed by the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Santa Fe Opera, and others.

Acclaimed playwright David Henry Hwang has received numerous honors for his prolific work in theater, television, film,! and opera. His M. Butterfly won the Tony Award for Best Play and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. According to Opera News, Hwang is America's most-produced living opera librettist. He has written four works with composer Philip Glass, including 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, while other of his libretti have been performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Lincoln Center, Spoleto Festival USA and elsewhere. The Deutsche Grammofone recording of his libretto for Ainadamar won two Grammy Awards after having spent time at the top of Billboard magazine's classical music charts. He also wrote the libretto for Dream of the Red Chamber, with a score by Bright Sheng, which premiered at San Francisco Opera, before traveling to the Hong Kong Arts Festival and a four-city tour of China.

Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang is an international cultural heritage policy advisor on the faculty at Columbia, a managing director at the Met Opera, and a trustee of the New-York Historical Society. She received the Society's Medal of Merit for Public Engagement in 2018.

The New-York Historical Society, one of America's preeminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history. New-York Historical is also home to the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, one of the oldest, most distinguished libraries in the nation-and one of only 20 in the United States qualified to be a member of the Independent Research Libraries Association-which contains more than three million books, pamphlets, maps, atlases, newspapers, broadsides, music sheets, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings.

Photo Credit: Lia Chang

high res photos

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Guang Yang, Huang Ruo, Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, David Henry Hwang, Andrew Stenson, Fang-Tao Jiang

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Guang Yang, Huang Ruo, Andrew Stenson, Fang-Tao Jiang

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Guang Yang, Andrew Stenson, Fang-Tao Jiang

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, David Henry Hwang and Huang Ruo

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, David Henry Hwang

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, David Henry Hwang, Huang Ruo, Andrew Stenson

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Shelley Monroe Huang, Steve Buck, Guang Yang, Fang-Tao Jiang, Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, David Henry Hwang, Huang Ruo, Andrew Stenson

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Andrew Stenson, Fang-Tao Jiang

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Andrew Stenson

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Guang Yang, Andrew Stenson, Fang-Tao Jiang

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
David Henry Hwang, Huang Ruo, Andrew Stenson

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Guang Yang

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, David Henry Hwang, Huang Ruo, Andrew Stenson

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Guang Yang, Fang-Tao Jiang, Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, David Henry Hwang, Huang Ruo, Andrew Stenson

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
David Henry Hwang, Virginia Wing, Wai Ching Ho

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Andrew Stenson, Fang-Tao Jiang

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
David Henry Hwang greets audience members

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Fang-Tao Jiang

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Guang Yang, Fang-Tao Jiang

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Huang Ruo greets the audience.

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang meets a family member of Private Danny Chen.

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Shelley Monroe Huang, Andrew Stenson, Huang Ruo, Guang Yang, Steve Buck, Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, Fang-Tao Jiang, Liz OuYang with members of Private Danny Chen's family.

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Steve Buck, Guang Yang, Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, Andrew Stenson, Fang-Tao Jiang, Shelley Monroe Huang and Huang Ruo

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Andrew Stenson, Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, Martin Tang, Margaret Lee, Huang Ruo, Shelley Monroe Huang, Oscar Tang

Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo's Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
Huang Ruo and his wife, Shelley Monroe Huang

 


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