Select Dream Press Releases and Notices in Beijing, August and September 2017
I. Press releases: SF Opera will bring ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ production to China
News was reported by Mercury News, Opera Wire, and Broadway World.
i) by Sue Gilmore at Mercury News, 8/16/2017: http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/08/16/sf-opera-will-bring-dream-of-the-red-chamber-production-to-china/ This tour to Beijing, Changsha and Wuhan will feature composer Bright Sheng as conductor as well as some cast changes in the original San Francisco Opera’s production. “’Dream of the Red Chamber'” had a profound impact in connecting San Francisco Opera to its broader Bay Area community,” SF Opera’s General Director Matthew Shilvock said. “It’s thrilling, then, that this impact will continue as ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ travels to China in one of the most exciting American-Chinese cultural bridges to emerge in recent years.”
The tour is scheduled to open with two showcases at Beijing’s Poly Theatre on Sept. 8 and 9 and 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 Sept. 15 and 16. The third and final stop of the tour will be the Qintai Grand Theatre in Wuhan on Sept. 22 and 23.
iv) Xinhua -- 2017-08-17, Editor: Yamei http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-08/17/c_136533742.htm
Stan Lai is quoted as saying: ‘"The story is told with a new perspective by switching scenes between the real world and illusion, showing the audience the beauty of dream and the harshness of reality. It inspires people to pursue beauty and love."
iv) CTGN - English opera based on Chinese classic novel set for China debut, 2017-08-11 https://news.cgtn.com/news/7851544e79557a6333566d54/share_p.html
a preview of the upcoming China premiere of Dream and summary of reviews of the world premiere performance in San Francisco. Responding to the possibility of failure or evoking a mixed reaction in tackling such a revered novel, librettist David Henry Hwang told The Guardian, "That's not a bad thing if you can create a work that makes people re-engage with this novel on a different level."
v) China Plus - English adaptation of famed Chinese opera "Dream of The Red Chamber" to open in China soon; 2017-08-22
a video with host Sam Duckett with some of the behind-the-stage stories.
2. Armstrong International Music & Arts Enterprises – an artist manager and touring agent with offices in London, Beijing and Rome, was appointed by SF Opera as the exclusive touring agent of Dream in China.
Wray Armstrong, Chairman and CEO has this to say: "When I saw the dress rehearsal for the premiere last season, even before its sold-out performances in San Francisco and later Hong Kong, I was certain this work would be a hit in China. What an honor to bring China's greatest literary treasure back home in this unique and beautiful production, created by a ‘Dream Team’ of artists!” In addition to giving the dates and venues of this China tour, this press release contains detailed information on all cast members. To see complete press release, please click here.
3. U.S.-China Social and Cultural Dialogue - On September 28, 2017, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met, for the first time, with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong. The topic at this inaugural meeting was on U.S.-China Social and Cultural Dialogue.
The summary from the State Department’s website (https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/09/274496.htm) noted that ‘The social, cultural, and people-to-people ties between our two peoples are both deep rooted and dynamic.’
But the press release from the Chinese Xinhua Agency was extensive and specific. Of particular interest was that under the area of Cultural Dialogue, the two countries had pledged to promote the interchange of outstanding artistic undertakings that would further mutual understanding between the two countries. One of the examples cited was SF Opera’s production of Dream of the Red Chamber. TO read the entire press release, please click here.
II. Select Press Notices:
1. Financial Times: Opera beset by intrigues old and new: https://www.ft.com/content/2efd7106-997a-11e7-a652-cde3f882dd7b?mhq5j=e7 This article delves into some of the intricacies of bringing performances to China, and the sensitivities to be aware of. It gives a great deal of background information.
2. CTGN: Chinese Global Television Network, an English news channel of China Central Television based in Beijing Chinese classic in English bids to wow audiences in China https://news.cgtn.com/news/336b6a4d34557a6333566d54/share_p.html
The author predicts that ‘The production is sure to come under close scrutiny from Chinese audiences who hold the original novel dear to their hearts.’ The article also contains the quotes: "Chinese story, or Western story... we're all humans. So we have something in common. We all want to be loved, all want to love. So from that point of view, there's no difference. It's just a story that happens in China, or in ancient China,” said Bright Sheng, composer and co-librettist.
“While making the story line simple we hope to retain the sophistication of 'A Dream of Red Mansions', particularly the facets of the aristocratic life of China's Qing Dynasty through Tim Yip's very beautiful costumes and scenery and staging that put a lot of details. I think the audience would be able to grasp that,” said Stan Lai, stage director. “Plus, all of the themes, all of the very, very Chinese themes that come from the philosophical themes... Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism. We have kept all these things,”
Tenor Shi Yijie, who plays Bao Yu, said: “A Dream of Red Mansions is such a classic. The novel has such a special place in the hearts of us Chinese. As an opera singer who toured foreign countries and presented characters of Western opera classics, I find this role very difficult. I've poured in a lot of time and effort into the role.”
Of Tim Yip’s set and costume designs, Daniel Knapp, San Francisco Opera production director said, “Everything is translucent, everything is transparent and everything glows,” Knapp said. “It is the sheer cut and the brilliance of Tim’s design that make the production so stellar and so transformable.”
Terry Branstad, U.S. Ambassador to China, greatly enjoyed the inaugural performance in Beijing, and hoped that there would be more cultural exchanges between China and the U.S.
3. CGTN, full length feature on Chinese Global Television Network, an English news channel of China Central Television based in Beijing, September 9, 2017 http://xhpfmapi.zhongguowangshi.com/share/index.html?docid=2282201&channel=weixin&from=singlemessage&isappinstalled=0
This half-hour feature details the development of the opera, its impact on the U.S. audience, and its role on the international stage. Wray Armstrong, CEO of Armstrong International Music & Arts Enterprises, said, ‘This opera uses the world language of music to tell a Chinese classic story in English. Seen in the established format of opera our English-speaking friends now can directly appreciate this classic Chinese story. Combining the high artistic level of opera with the best in Chinese culture, this opera is giving extra deep meaning to Chinese/International cultural exchanges. Its arrival back in China today marks the first time a world-class artistic work with a Chinese theme has created such splendor.’
Composer Bright Sheng incorporated some well-known Chinese folk song melodies into western contemporary opera, creating a special idiom of his own. The anchor feels that ‘Now that Dream has been performed in both San Francisco and Hong Kong and has now arrived at the Poly Theatre in Beijing, we are no longer talking about a simple one-way export of Chinese culture. We are talking about serious interchanges on subjects of mutual interest. Dream has successfully attracted foreign affection, and has also led to interest in new cultural arts among the worldwide Chinese.’
Through its spokesman, San Francisco Opera said, ‘We hope that this Dream opera in English will only be the beginning. Let’s hope that there will be many more Chinese stories being produced in worldwide artistic formats, attracting a worldwide audience and creating wide accolades.’
4. Weibo, the Chinese social network, 9/12/17 A long series of articles in WeiBo on various aspects of Dream, including musical excerpts, interviews with the artistic team, extra interviews with Bright on changes he had made since the Hong Kong premiere (adding extra loving passages to love scene of BaoYu and DaiYu in Act I before the climax) and preview of the WuHan performances.