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Dream of the Red Chamber

San Francisco Opera Commission "Dream of the Red Chamber" Will Tour People's Republic of China

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 15, 2017) — Dream of the Red Chamber, commissioned by San Francisco Opera from Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng with a libretto by Sheng and playwright David Henry Hwang, will tour to the People’s Republic of China in September 2017, a press conference unveiled today at the late 18th-century Prince Gong Mansion in Beijing. Co-produced by Poly Theatre Management Co., Ltd. and Armstrong International Music & Arts Enterprises, Ltd., the Dream of the Red Chamber China Tour will travel to three Chinese cities in six performances.

The tour opens with two performances at Beijing’s Poly Theatre on September 8 and 9. The work will then be presented as part of the grand opening of the Meixihu International Culture and Arts Centre Grand Theatre in the southern city of Changsha on September 15 and 16. Designed by the late Zaha Hadid, the Meixihu complex was among the noted British-Iraqi architect’s last projects before her sudden death in March 2016. The third and final stop of the tour will be the Qintai Grand Theatre in Wuhan on September 22 and 23.

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CHFF Goes to Dream World Premiere

 

September 9, 2016 – It was exhilarating when 149 of us descended on San Francisco in the three days before our Dream world premiere on September 10. All of us were primed for excitement and could hardly contain ourselves. The majority of us had checked into The Stanford Court, our headquarters for the weekend. At 4 PM on Friday September 9, we all congregated at the lobby for our welcome reception, hosted by the Hotel. Our warm-hearted chatter soon filled the air, as everyone greeted everyone and received his or her table assignments for our banquet to follow. Shortly after 5 PM we boarded our two private coaches for the ride to Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Millbrae. We were happy to leave the driving to our drivers and sit back to chat and enjoy the views out our windows. Soon we arrived at the restaurant and were whisked right away to our private room where 11 tables were set waiting for us.

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Dream Premiere Press Notices

The world premiere production of Dream of the Red Chamber by San Francisco Opera has received worldwide attention, amounting to a 17-page spreadsheet of listings!  In addition to press notices from CA and MN, there were articles in the Financial Times, the Economist, the Guardian, New York Times, and numerous articles in newspapers in China.  These articles have also been forwarded to other sites, including foreignpolicy.com.

Of particular significance is an editorial published in the influential Shanghai newspaper, Guangming Daily.  

The writer, a board member of the Chinese Cultural Critics Association, understood that the mission of Dream was to bring the best of Chinese cultural heritage to the world stage.  He marveled that the initiative came from Chinese Americans in the U.S. and not internally from China, and agreed with SF Opera’s General Director, Matthew Shilvock, that Dream was a SFO star-studded sophisticated in-depth production.  Highly encouraged by this first successful landmark artistic adaptation of classic Chinese literature into English, the writer went on to envision a future where many more such cultural projects will follow this path-breaking one, where we will truly integrate Chinese and American cultures in a two-way manner, and where more in-depth studies of the splendor in Chinese culture will lead to more similarly successful artistic creations for the world stage.  He is particularly pleased that Dream is ‘coming home’ to China.  Chinese culture is no longer simply just an one-way outreach ‘export’ from China any more.  It has now become part of humanity’s world cultural heritage, attracting a new audience in new ways.  Taking a long view, the writer concluded that it no longer matters whether expositions of Chinese culture originate in China or overseas, he hopes that with Dream marking the beginning, there will be many, many more such efforts, with positive outcomes, to promote the understanding of Chinese classical literature throughout the world in the future.

San Francisco Opera has put together a book of highlights from these notices.  Our own Paul Kwok has added a secion of us attending the premiere.  You can view this 117-page book here.

 To view the entire list of press notices, please click here.

2016 Dream Post Premiere Luncheon

On a sunny November morning, many Dream donors who attended the world premiere in San Francisco gathered in Ming Tchou's apartment to relive the wonderful memories of being there.  There were cheerful faces all around, surrounded by hearty laughter and goo cheer.  Everyone had a fun story to tell, and what could be better than sitting at elegant tables set by Yin Simpson and gourmet delectables prepared by master chef Paul Kwok?   Long after the wonderful deserts (red border to remind us of the Red Chambers, three cream puffs to signify the love triangle...) created by Yin were consumed, everyone still wanted to linger to share one more precious moment of fun with Ming!

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Dream Press Highlights

It seems that Dream has caught the eyes of the world. Numerous music critics, from the Economist, Financial Times, the Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and many others descended on the San Francisco Opera House. So did critics from many prominent Chinese newspapers. These reviews were picked up by many other newspapers and websites, including ForeignPolicies.com.

An op-ed article that appeared in the influential Shanghai newspaper, Guangming Daily deserves special mention. The writer, a board member of the Chinese Cultural Critics Association, understood that the mission of Dream was to bring the best of Chinese cultural heritage to the world stage.  He marveled that the initiative came from Chinese Americans in the U.S. and not internally from China, and agreed with Matthew Shilvock, General Director of San Francisco Opera, that Dream was a SFO star-studded sophisticated in-depth production.  Highly encouraged by this first successful landmark artistic adaptation of classic Chinese literature into English, the writer went on to envision a future where many more such cultural projects will follow this path-breaking one, where we will truly integrate Chinese and American cultures in a two-way manner, and where more in-depth studies of the splendor in Chinese culture will lead to more similarly successful artistic creations for the world stage.  He also particularly likes the fact that Dream is ‘coming home’ to China.  Chinese culture is no longer simply just a one-way outreach ‘export’ from China any more.  It has now become part of humanity’s world cultural heritage, attracting a new audience in new ways.  Taking a long view, the writer concluded that it no longer matters whether expositions of Chinese culture originate in China or overseas, he hopes that with Dream marking the beginning, there will be many, many more such efforts, with positive outcomes, to promote the understanding of Chinese classical literature throughout the world in the future.

San Francisco Opera has assembled a spreadsheet (16 pages long) of press notices, as well as a book of highlights from these notices and reviews. Please check back as Dream travels to Hong Kong in March 2017 for its Asia premiere!

Dream Premiere Details

Tickets for Dream Opera Premiere and Banquet
dream pree release 6 20160719 1417697055As the date (September 10) of the world premiere of the Dream opera draws near, CHFF has been working hard to put together a memorable weekend in San Francisco for attendees.  In addition to working with San Francisco Opera to create a webpage for a flex group online ticket discount to the world premiere performance, CHFF is also presenting a sumptuous banquet for September 9, the evening before the world premiere.  This banquet, to take place at the Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Milbrae, features the following menu:

1. Roasted suckling pig with jelly fish
2. Sauteed sliced conch and scallops with sugar snap peas
3. Deep fried milk / king prawns wrapped with bacon
4. Braised deluxe bird's nest soup with crab meat
5. Australian #6 abalone and sea cucumber and tender greens
6. Stir fired lobster with ginger and scallions
7. Peking duck with lettuce cups
8. Smoked filet of sea bass
9. Fried rice with dried scallops, egg white and cilantro
10. Dessert: red bean soup or almond jello

Individuals interested in attending both events (ticket buying for the premiere at a group rate and reservations for the banquet) should contact CHFF at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as soon as possible.  SF Opera expects the world premiere to sell out quickly.

 

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Dream Opera Synopsis

PROLOGUE
Beggars drift through the ruins of a once-great home, as a Monk appears. He needs to tell the world an extraordinary story: A stone, left behind dream pree release 2 20160719 1839312350from the construction of Heaven, nurtured a crimson pearl flower with its dew for 3,000 years. Together, Stone and Flower seek to fulfill their love by living as mortals on earth. The Monk tries to dissuade them from such a course. But Stone and Flower disobey, traveling through a magic mirror to earth.


ACT ONE
dream pree release 5 20160719 1770028779Flower becomes Dai Yu, a brilliant but sickly young woman, whose mother has just died. She arrives at the home of one of the dynasty’s most prestigious old families, the Jia clan. Granny Jia, Dai Yu's grandmother, loved Dai Yu’s late mother. But Lady Wang, Granny Jia’s daughter-in-law, takes an immediate dislike to the newcomer.


The Stone becomes Bao Yu, Lady Wang’s son and the Jia clan's sole male heir: a spoiled youth born with a piece of jade in his mouth. When introduced, Bao Yu and Dai Yu feel they’ve met before.


Envoys from the Emperor announce the promotion of Bao Yu’s elder sister to the coveted rank of Princess. For generations, the Jias have owed a huge debt to the Imperial Court, but the Princess’ promotion suggests that the Emperor might be willing to make peace with his long-time rivals.
Later that night, Bao Yu hears Dai Yu playing the qin (a stringed instrument). They begin to write poems together, and her skill is superior. They resolve to transform the world with music.


To counter Dai Yu’s influence, Lady Wang brings the beautiful Bao Chai, from the wealthy Xue clan, into their home. Her mother, Aunt Xue, seeks entrée to high society, while Lady Wang, her sister, seeks the Xue's money to repay the imperial debt, and they hope to make a match. Though Bao Chai is the perfect woman of her time, Bao Yu is disgusted by her practicality. Granny, on the other hand, hopes her grandson will marry Dai Yu. Bao Yu has an erotic dream in which both women appear. Though attracted to Bao Chai, he feels Dai Yu is his soulmate.


Princess Jia arrives home for a visit. She tells Lady Wang that the palace is filled with enemies, and she fears she cannot keep her position. The Emperor wants Bao Yu to marry Bao Chai, and Princess gives them both the same gift to symbolize these wishes. This delights Lady Wang, upsets Granny, and throws Dai Yu into despair. But Bao Yu resolves their love will triumph.dream pree release 1 20160719 1958962453


ACT TWO
Dai Yu’s health continues to decline. On the bank of her favorite lake, she buries the falling peach blossom petals. Overhearing her, Bao Yu is profoundly moved. She teases him about the Princess’ wish for him to marry Bao Chai, and storms off. But she overhears Bao Yu declaring that he remains devoted to her.


Bao Chai encourages Bao Yu to submit his name for a high post, and he rebukes her. Saddened, Bao Chai tells Dai Yu she only wants the young man’s happiness. The two rivals bond as sisters.


Granny Jia falls ill. She declares that she wants her grandson to marry Dai Yu. A eunuch arrives, bearing a letter from the Princess: she has lost the power struggle, and will be dead by the time they read this. There is only one way for the Jias to save themselves. Granny Jia dies, sending the clan into mourning.


dream pree release 3 20160719 1162225961Now head of the clan, Lady Wang orders her son to carry out the Emperor’s wishes and marry Bao Chai. This is the only way to pay back the imperial debt. Lady Wang sends Dai Yu away to her favorite lake, where she burns the poems she and Bao Yu wrote. But Bao Yu makes a stand for love, and tells Lady Wang he will become a Monk. Defeated, Lady Wang agrees to let Bao Yu marry Dai Yu.


Bao Yu exchanges vows with Dai Yu, who is veiled. Once they are married, Bao Yu discovers he has actually married Bao Chai, tricked by Aunt Xue and Lady Wang! Suddenly, imperial soldiers storm in to confiscate all property of the Jia and Xue clans. The Emperor only encouraged this marriage so that when he arrested the Jias, he could also seize the Xue fortune.


We realize that the Monk is Bao Yu’s older self, writing his own life story. After the wedding, Dai Yu slowly walked into the lake and drowned herself. The Jia family became beggars, wandering through the illusion known as life.


*Synopsis courtesy of the San Francisco Opera

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