Dream of the Red Chamber (紅樓夢), one of China’s four great classic novels, tells the story of the rise and decline a wealthy imperial Chinese family, and by extension, the rise and decline of the Qing dynasty itself. The novel was adapted as an English-language Opera composed by Bright Sheng with libretto by Sheng and David Henry Hwang, which premiered at the San Francisco Opera in 2016.
On April 21, join composer Bright Sheng and Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang to explore the world of their Dream of the Red Chamber which returns to the San Francisco Opera House this June. Sheng and Hwang, in conversation with Ann Chih Lin, Director of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan, will share what it takes to adapt this rich and complex world to a different medium, and why this story still resonates with readers and viewers alike more than two centuries after it was first written.
This event is co-presented by China Institute and the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies (LRCCS) at the University of Michigan.
David Henry Hwang’s work includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Yellow Face, Golden Child, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Aida, Flower Drum Song (2002 revival), and Disney’s Tarzan. Called America’s most-produced living opera librettist by Opera News, he has written thirteen libretti, including five with composer Philip Glass and an earlier work with Bright Sheng, The Silver River. His screenplays include M. Butterfly and he is currently penning the live-action feature musical remake of Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame as well as creating two television series, Billion Dollar Whale for Westward/SKG and another for Netflix. Hwang co-wrote the Gold Record “Solo” with the late pop music icon Prince and was a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series The Affair from 2015-2019. He is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a Grammy Award winner and two-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner, and a three-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. His most recent musical, Soft Power, written with composer Jeanine Tesori, received four Outer Critics Honors, a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theatre Album, and was a Finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize.
Bright Sheng is a world-renowned composer, conductor, and pianist and is the Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor at the University of Michigan, and Y. K. Pao Distinguished Visiting Professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He has been widely commissioned and performed by the top musical institutions in North America, Europe, and Asia, including the White House, the 2008 Beijing International Olympic Games, New York Philharmonic, among many others. Sheng’s music ranges from dramatic to lyrical, and is strongly influenced by the folk and classical music tradition from eastern and central Asia. Since 2000, he has been studying and researching the music phenomenon of the Silk Road culture, and has served as the Artistic Advisor to Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project Inc. Since 2011, Sheng has been the Founder and Artistic Director of The Intimacy of Creativity—The Bright Sheng Partnership: Composers Meet Performers in Hong Kong, an annual two-week workshop with a new approach to creativity.