Dream Revival 2022
June 13, 2022 – During the two days before June 14, the opening night of the revival of Dream of the Red Chamber by San Francisco Opera, some fifty of us flew into town. Many of us were here for the world premiere performance six years ago. We had come to relive that unforgettable experience, and we had brought more friends and families with us. Other attendees were CHF members and friends who were not able to attend last time. Excitement built throughout the day on June 13 as we ran into each other in Chinatown, all looking to find the Great Eastern Chinese Restaurant where we were to have a dinner gathering that evening.
At the dinner we welcomed Matthew Shilvock, general director of SF Opera, together with composer Bright Sheng and set/costume designer Tim Yip, for a delicious Chinese banquet. There were many animated conversations going around between them, our attendees and also a contingent from the local SF Chinese community. After dinner Matthew gave a heartfelt speech to us, thanking us for bringing the story to SFO’s attention ten years ago and the joys of working with our community, creating and deepening the bonds between us throughout the process of producing this opera. He also mentioned that Dream was the single most successful world premiere production in SFO’s history. They were so proud to have toured with it to Hong Kong and China, and now to bring it back home. He was deeply appreciative of our support and looked forward to more collaboration in the future.
Bright followed with more appreciative comments on the collaborative nature of his association with both SFO and the Chinese community, both in Minneapolis and San Francisco. He also commented on the organic evolution of the creative process. He continues to refine his score, deriving pleasure and drive as friends everywhere offer comments, working closely with stage director Stan Lai who could not be with us as he continued to fine tune his stage directions back at the opera house.
Designer Tim Yip, fresh from his design duties at the Metropolitan Opera where he is in charge of the set and costume design for an upcoming production of Lohengrin, talked about the philosophy behind his designs and the importance of color and empty space on stage. The evening ended on a high note as everyone left in eager anticipation of the revival opening of Dream the next day.
June 14, 2022 – While we all spent the day at different leisurely activities, we converged at the War Memorial Opera House in the early evening, all going through congenial but mandatory photo ID and COVID vaccination and boosted confirmations before being allowed into the Opera House. Immediately we were greeted by a festive atmosphere, with everyone simply delighted and excited to be there. As at the world premiere six years ago, there was a sizeable attendance of Asian Americans in the audience. A hush fell over everyone as the opera began promptly at 7:30. It held us in its grip until it was all over two and a half hours later. We emerged from the Opera House, silent but wiser in the ways life throws its punches at us!
June 15, 2022 – What would better suit our celebratory mood than a dimsum lunch at the award-winning Harborview Restaurant! And this time, with opening night behind him, stage director Stan Lai was able to join us as well, together with Matthew Shilvock, Bright Sheng and Tim Yip. They offered their after-performance remarks and, again, their deep appreciation to CHF for bringing all this about! At the conclusion of this mini feast in the middle of the day, our consensus was we would do it all over again in a heartbeat!