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Students perform workshop production of new opera by Prof. Bright Sheng

 02/15/2016

Prior to its world premiere by the San Francisco Opera (SFO) in September 2016, a group of voice and piano students at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance will have the unique opportunity of performing a workshop production of Dream of the Red Chamber. The English-language opera, commissioned by the SFO, was composed by Bright Sheng, SMTD's Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor, with a libretto co-authored by Professor Sheng and David Henry Hwang, the award-winning writer of plays, musicals, and films.

The workshop performance, on Thursday, February 18 at 8 p.m., will take place at Stamps Auditorium in the Walgreen Drama Center. It will be open to University of Michigan faculty, staff, and students, with no admission charge. (It is closed to the general public). Sheng and Hwang will both be in attendance, along with the stage director and the conductor of the world premiere performances, Stan Lai and George Manahan, and representatives of SFO's administration, including the general director-designate Matthew Shilvock.

The students have been preparing this piece since December with Kathleen Kelly, associate professor of music and conductor of opera. They began work with Professor Sheng earlier in February.

"We're thrilled about this collaboration," says Kelly. "A workshop of a new opera usually takes place in-house at an opera company. This opportunity has come our way due to the cooperative efforts of many people, chief among them Bright Sheng, Department of Voice Chair Stephen West, myself, and SFO Dramaturg Kip Cranna. Our students have the chance to learn a new piece with its creator, and be part of a professional-level process. Since new work is an increasingly large part of a young opera professional's life, this kind of training is invaluable. And the stakes are high! This is the first time that the opera company staff will hear the piece all the way through, so our responsibility is major."

Based on one of China's greatest classical novels-as famous in China as Romeo and Juliet is in the West-Dream of the Red Chamber, written in the 18th century, recounts the love triangle between a young nobleman and two very different women: one his spiritual soul mate, the other a beautiful heiress.

Generally considered the greatest piece of Chinese literature ever written, Dream of the Red Chamber-published in multiple volumes and featuring hundreds of characters-was thought to be nearly impossible to adapt. However, Hwang, in a video featured on the SFO website, believes that he and Sheng have achieved "a distillation of the values of that culture and that history" and have created "an accessible and emotional experience for audiences."

In addition to the workshop, several other educational events are scheduled, including a panel discussion about the commissioning and workshopping process, titled "From Page to Stage," that is open to the public. The panel, featuring Sheng, Hwang, Kelly, and Cranna, takes place Thursday, February 18 from 4:45 - 6:15 p.m. at Stamps Auditorium in the Walgreen Drama Center and is free of charge.

 

Dream of the Red Chamber

SMTD EVENTS

 

 

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 16

12:00-1:30 p.m., School of Social Work Building, Room 1636

The Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies hosts a discussion between David Henry Hwang, playwright, screenwriter and librettist; Bright Sheng, Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor, SMTD; and David Rolston, associate professor, Asia Languages and Cultures.

(Event open to the general public; no admission charge).

 

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 18

 

4:45-6:15 p.m., Stamps Auditorium, Walgreen Drama Center

"From Page to Stage," a panel discussion about the commissioning and workshopping of Dream of the Red Chamber, featuring David Henry Hwang, playwright, screenwriter and librettist; Bright Sheng, Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor, SMTD; Kip Cranna, dramaturg, San Francisco Opera; and Kathleen Kelly, associate professor and conductor of opera, SMTD. (Event open to the general public; no admission charge).

 

7:15 p.m., Stamps Auditorium, Walgreen Building

Pre-workshop talk led by David Rolston, associate professor, Asia Languages and Cultures; and Kathleen Kelly, associate professor and conductor of opera, SMTD.

(Event closed to general public; University faculty, staff, and students welcome; no admission charge).

 

8:00 p.m., Stamps Auditorium, Walgreen Building

Workshop performance: Dream of the Red Chamber

(Event closed to general public; University faculty, staff, and students welcome; no admission charge).

 

 

past news

March 2014

U-M UpstART Festival Begins 03/31/2014

Students Present "Wall-to-Wall Theatre Festival" 03/27/2014

First-Ever SMTD Chamber Music Competition Launches April 5 03/27/2014

Doctoral Fellow Named MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year 03/26/2014

Theatre Student Lands Major TV Role 03/25/2014

Elizabeth Batiuk (ethnomusicology) has been chosen as a fellow at the Sweetland/Rackham Dissertation Writing Institute for spring 2014 and James McNally (ethnomusicology) received a summer and academic year FLAS for the study of Portuguese.    03/17/2014

Musicology graduate student Elizabeth McLain has been awarded a prestigious Lurcy Fellowship for research in France during the 2014-2015 academic year.   03/14/2014

December 2013

SMTD students Zoe Kumagai, Stephanie Aboukasm, and Adam DesJardins are among students profiled in an LSA article about the "Michigan in Washington" program, in which students intern at various Washington, DC organizations and businesses, including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center, and the Washington Performing Arts Society.    12/10/2013

October 2013
August 2013

Evan Zegiel, a sophomore who studies with Fritz Kaenzig, was the First Place winner in the Tuba Student division of the 2013 Leonard Falcone International Euphonium & Tuba Festival.     08/21/2013

July 2013

Professor Ashley Lucas and three Theatre & Drama students are engaged in an intensive exchange program with UniRio in Rio de Janiero, Brazil this summer, where they are blogging about their experiences in UniRio's prison arts program and more.   07/12/2013

November 2011
August 2011
June 2011
Current Student News
21st Century Artist Interns: 2017-18more
 

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower

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