(Seoul, South Korea)
Soprano Pureum Jo is making her San Francisco Opera debut as Dai Yu in Dream of the Red Chamber. A Houston Grand Opera Studio Artist and a graduate of The Juilliard School, where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Jo has appeared as Matsukaze in Toshio Hosokawa’s Matsukaze (Spoleto Festival USA, Lincoln Center Festival), Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites (The Chautauqua Institution), and Sandrina in La Finta Giardiniera. At Houston Grand Opera, she has performed the roles of Papagena and Pamina in The Magic Flute and the Rose in Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince. Later this season at Houston Grand Opera, Jo is to perform the role of Miss Prayne in Carlisle Floyd’s Prince of Players. She has also appeared in concerts at Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall, including the Marilyn Horne Foundation Annual Recital, Juilliard’s Wednesdays at One series, Juilliard Songfest coached by Brian Zeger, a concert of Rameau works with Juilliard415 under Robert Mealy, and as a soloist in Haydn’s Mass in Time of War and Mozart’s Laudate Dominum. Jo won Second Prize in the 2014 Eastern Region Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She is a student of Marlena Malas and is the recipient of the Anna Case MacKay Scholarship.
Making his San Francisco Opera debut as Bao Yu in Dream of the Red Chamber, tenor Yijie Shi has sung at many internationally renowned venues including the Metropolitan Opera, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia di Roma, the Rossini Festival in Pesaro, Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, Deutsche Oper of Berlin, Opéra de Nancy, Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, Opéra de Lausanne, Teatro La Fenice di Venezia, and Teatro Comunale di Bologna. Last season, he performed the role of Fenton in Falstaff at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence under the baton of Zubin Mehta, Conte Alberto in Rossini’s L’Occasione Fa Il Ladro at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, and Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Avenches Opera Festival in Switzerland. Important past productions include Rossini’s Armida at the Metropolitan Opera, where he performed the role of Ubaldo. Shi opened the 2015–16 season making his role debut as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor in Florence. Among his future plans are Narciso in Il Turco in Italia at Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse and Argirio in Tancredi at Opéra de Marseille.
Mezzo-soprano Nian Wang is a first-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow who made her Company debut last summer as Ascanius in Les Troyens. She appeared this fall as Second Lady in The Magic Flute and recently appeared with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in Rossini’s La Cambiale di Matrimonio. Wang also participated in the 2014 Merola Opera Program, where she performed excerpts as Juno in Semele, Federica in Luisa Miller, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, and the title role of Carmen. At the Curtis Institute of Music, her credits include the title roles of La Cenerentola and Rinaldo, Mother Jeanne in Dialogues des Carmélites, Romeo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Kate in Owen Wingrave, Second Lady, Siebel in Faust, and the First Witch in Dido and Aeneas. Other credits include Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann with the Martina Arroyo Foundation; Chinese Tea Cup, Female Cat, Shepherd, and Squirrel in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and Mother in Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar at Bard College; and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro with Princeton Symphony. Wang also performed in the Dawn Upshaw and Donnacha Dennehy Young Artist Concert at Carnegie Hall, and she received fourth prize in the 2012 Opera Columbus Irma M. Cooper Vocal Competition and the 2013 Opera Index Encouragement Award.
Contralto Qiulin Zhang is making her American and San Francisco Opera debuts as Granny Jia in Dream of the Red Chamber. Trained in China and France, she has performed at many of Europe’s prestigious opera houses and concert halls. Among her many roles, she sang Maddalena in Rigoletto in Rennes, Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly in Saint-Étienne and Marseille, the title role of Carmen at the Hong Kong Festival with the Orchestre National de Lille, and Erda in several stagings of the Ring, including Robert Wilson’s seminal production at Paris’ Théâtre du Châtelet. In concert, she performed Das Lied von der Erde with the Orchestre de Paris, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, and with the Orchestre National de Lille, conducted by Jean-Claude Casadesus. Zhang recently took part in Detlev Glanert’s Solaris at the Cologne Opera. Among her future plans are performances of Suzuki at the Avenches Festival in Switzerland, the Hong Kong Festival, and La Monnaie Royal Theatre in Brussels.
(Seoul, South Korea)
Making her San Francisco Opera debut as Lady Wang in Dream of the Red Chamber, mezzo-soprano Hyona Kim was a finalist in the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and, in 2013, the Grand Winner of the Joy in Singing Competition which subsequently led to a recital performance at New York’s Merkin Concert Hall. She was also a First Prize winner of the Gerda Lissner Competition and a multiple grant winner at the Licia Albanese-Puccini and Giulio Gari Competitions. Kim earned her master’s degree and professional studies diploma from Mannes College of Music in New York City. During her time at Mannes Opera, she performed Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Annina in La Traviata. In 2012, Kim made her Houston Grand Opera debut originating the role of Hal-Mo-Ni (grandmother) in Jeeyoung Kim’s From My Mother’s Mother at HGOco. She recently sang Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with New York City’s Ensemble 212. Upcoming performances include Su Lian Tan’s Lotus Lives at Tufts University.
KAREN CHIA-LING HO
Making her San Francisco Opera debut as Princess Jia in Dream of the Red Chamber, soprano Karen Chia-ling Ho is a winner of the prestigious Renée Fleming Award from the Eastman School of Music. She has also been honored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (South Carolina District Winner and Southeast Regional Finalist), the Marcello Giordani Foundation International Vocal Competition, the Sergio Franchi Music Foundation, and was a finalist in the Belvedere and Francisco Viñas Competitions. Ho made her role and company debut this year as Liù in Turandot with St. Petersburg (Fla.) Opera. This past season, she presented in concert with the American Composers Orchestra in Washington D.C. music by the Chinese composer Li Shaosheng and appeared in concerts of operatic arias and duets with both the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra. In the summer of 2014, she participated in San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program where she was featured as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. Ho is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Chinese-American mezzo-soprano Yanyu Guo has worked with many opera companies throughout Europe and the United States, including Washington National Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Opéra National de Paris, Göteborg Opera Sweden, Salzburger Landestheater, Nationaltheater Mannheim, Nationaltheater Weimar, and North Carolina Opera. This current season, Guo appears at Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts as La Cieca in La Gioconda and Jezibaba in Rusalka. A former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, she performed at San Francisco Opera in the title role of Ariodante and as Pauline in Pique Dame. Also at San Francisco Opera, Guo stepped in for Frederica von Stade in the role of Penelope opposite Thomas Hampson in Michael Hampe’s production of Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, receiving considerable critical acclaim.
Composer and co-librettist
Bright Sheng is respected as one of the leading composers of our time, whose stage, orchestral, chamber, and vocal works are performed regularly by the greatest performing arts institutions throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Proclaimed by the MacArthur Foundation in 2001 as “an innovative composer who merges diverse musical customs in works that transcend conventional aesthetic boundaries,” Sheng’s music is evident with a strong Asian influence. However, it is the synthesis with Western musical tradition that makes his work truly distinctive and original, an outcome from his profound understanding of both cultures, as Sheng admits: “I consider myself both 100% American and 100% Asian.”
In addition to composing, Sheng enjoys an active career as a conductor and concert pianist, and frequently acts as music advisor and artistic director to orchestras and festivals. He is currently the Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor at University of Michigan, and the Y. K. Pao Distinguished Visiting Professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology where, in 2011, he founded and has been serving as the Artistic Director of The Intimacy of Creativity—The Bright Sheng Partnership: Composers Meet Performers in Hong Kong.
Born in China, Sheng moved to New York in 1982 where he pursued his graduate works and studied composition and conducting privately with his mentor Leonard Bernstein. His music is exclusively published by G. Schirmer, Inc.
DAVID HENRY HWANG
(Los Angeles, California)
David Henry Hwang's work includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Golden Child, Yellow Face, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival), and Disney’s Tarzan. He is also America’s most-produced living opera librettist, who has worked with composers Philip Glass (1000 Airplanes on the Roof), Osvaldo Golijov (Ainadamar), Bright Sheng (The Silver River), Unsuk Chin (Alice in Wonderland), Huang Ruo (Dr. Sun Yat-sen), and Howard Shore (The Fly). Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner, and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. His screenplays include Possession (co-writer), Golden Gate, and M. Butterfly, and he is currently developing an original television series for Lionsgate and Bravo. Yellow Face was adapted into a full-length movie for YouTube by the YOMYOMF Network in 2013. Hwang won the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award, the 2012 Inge Award, the 2012 Steinberg “Mimi” Award, and a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award. He serves on the boards of the Lark Play Development Center, American Theatre Wing, and the Actors Fund, and as the President of Young Playwrights Inc. Hwang was recently the Residency One Playwright at New York’s Signature Theatre, which produced a season of his plays, including the premiere of his newest work, Kung Fu.
Known for his vast experience bringing new works to the stages of opera companies nationwide, conductor George Manahan made his San Francisco Opera debut leading the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne in 2013. He is currently music director of the American Composers Orchestra and Portland (Ore.) Opera. Winner of the prestigious Ditson Conductor’s Award in 2012 for his support of American music, Manahan served as music director of New York City Opera for fourteen seasons. He also serves as director of orchestral studies at the Manhattan School of Music and guest conductor at the Curtis Institute of Music. Next summer, he leads performances of L’Italiana in Algeri, Sweeney Todd, and Die Zauberflöte at Portland Opera.
Portland Opera, Portland OR
Making his San Francisco Opera debut, Stan Lai is one of the most acclaimed playwrights/directors in Asia, known not only for creating some of the most memorable works for the contemporary Chinese stage, but also for creating bold new genres and staging innovations. He is artistic director of Performance Workshop in Taiwan and festival artistic director of China’s Wuzhen Theatre. Lai’s works, which include over 30 original plays, two feature films, and four operas, include his epic 2000 play A Dream Like a Dream (“the most elaborate theater work in Chinese history,” according to China Daily), and 1986’s Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land (“the most popular contemporary play in China,” wrote the New York Times). Born in the U.S. and based in Taiwan, Lai received a doctorate degree in dramatic art from UC Berkeley. He was a professor and founding dean of the College of Theatre at Taipei National University of the Arts and has also been a visiting professor and artist-in-residence at Berkeley and Stanford University. In 2015, his Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land received its American premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
(Hong Kong, China)
Tim Yip is an art director and designer best known for his work in film. In 2001, he won the Academy Award for art direction for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, as well as a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award for the film’s costume design. After studies in Hong Kong, Yip went on to work with many celebrated film directors, including John Woo, Ang Lee, Tsai Ming Liang, Stanley Kwan, and Feng Xiaogang. He is well known in Taiwan, having worked with the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, Contemporary Legend Theatre, and U Theatre, among other companies. As an artist, Yip first gained attention for his “New Orientalism” aesthetic. He has presented many exhibitions in costume, photography, and visual art. He is making his San Francisco Opera debut with the world premiere of Dream of the Red Chamber.
(San Diego, California)
Resident lighting designer for San Francisco Opera, Gary Marder made his Company debut in Mefistofele in 2013 and his lighting designs were seen in this current season’s Luisa Miller, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Il Barbiere di Siviglia and, prior to that, in Susannah, Un Ballo in Maschera, Tosca, La Cenerentola, and Le Nozze di Figaro. His work has been seen at venues across the globe, including The Magic Flute in Sydney; La Traviata at Turin’s Teatro Regio as well as in Tokyo; The Makropulos Case and Samson et Dalila at Houston Grand Opera; Samson et Dalila, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Carmen, Peter Grimes, Un Ballo in Maschera, and Norma at San Diego Opera; Dialogues des Carmélites at Palm Beach Opera; La Clemenza di Tito in Toronto; Tosca at Opera New Jersey; and Aida and Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Dallas Opera. Marder served as assistant resident lighting designer for the Metropolitan Opera for twelve seasons and associate resident lighting designer at New York City Opera for five years. His work appears next summer in the Company’s Don Carlo.
(Hong Kong, China)
Multimedia artist John Wong is making his American and San Francisco Opera debuts with this world premiere production of Dream of the Red Chamber. Known for his work in theater productions and concerts in his native Hong Kong, Wong is the executive creative director and CEO of the commercial design company dontbelieveinstyle. Selected theater projects include Stan Lai’s Like Shadows, Light Years, and Writing in Water; Danny Yung’s Flee By Night, The Outcast General and Tears of Barren Hill; Zuni Icosahedron’s Hua-Yen Sutra, 1587: A Year of No Significance, and 18 Springs; Edward Lam Dance Theatre’s What is Sex?, What is Success?, Awakening, What is Fantasy?, What is Man?, and A Lover’s Discourse; Dadawa's Hear the World; and Yang Liping's Peacock.
Making her San Francisco Opera debut, Fang-Yi Sheu is a former principal dancer for Martha Graham Dance Company and the founder of Fang-Yi Sheu & Artists. She has received numerous awards including the 2005 President's Order of Brilliant Star (Taiwan), the 2007 National Award for the Arts (Taiwan), and Ballettanz magazine’s 2008 Outstanding Female Dancer. She was the first Asian artist-in-residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Sheu has collaborated with various dance groups and artists including Martha Graham Dance Company, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, Lin Hwai-min, Eliot Feld, Shen Wei, Akram Khan, Christopher Wheeldon, Wendy Whelan, San Jijia, Aszure Barton and conductor Riccardo Muti, and multimedia artist David Michalek.
Recipient of the 2012 San Francisco Opera Medal, Ian Robertson has been chorus director and conductor with San Francisco Opera since 1987, having prepared more than 300 productions for the Company. He was awarded the Olivier Messiaen Foundation Prize in 2003 for his artistic contribution to the preparation of the Company’s North American premiere of Saint François d’Assise. Robertson has also conducted ten main stage productions with the Company. Other North American opera credits include productions with Sarasota Opera, Edmonton Opera, and Philadelphia’s Curtis Opera Theatre. Before joining San Francisco Opera, Robertson was head of music and chorus director of Scottish Opera.