SAN FRANCISCO OPERA ANNOUNCES CAST CHANGE FOR WORLD PREMIERE OF DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER, OPENING SEPTEMBER 10
AMERICAN MEZZO-SOPRANO IRENE ROBERTS WILL SING
THE ROLE OF BAO CHAI, REPLACING NIAN WANG
SAN FRANCISCO (July 5, 2016)—San Francisco Opera announces a principal cast update for Dream of the Red Chamber, the new opera by Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng and co-librettist David Henry Hwang which receives its world premiere on September 10, 2016, with five additional performances through September 29. Japanese-American mezzo-soprano Irene Roberts, who is currently starring in the title role of Carmen, will now sing the role of Bao Chai, replacing previously announced mezzo-soprano Nian Wang who has determined that the vocal part was not a suitable fit for her voice and has withdrawn from the project.
Sacramento native Irene Roberts made her San Francisco Opera debut as Giulietta in Les Contes d’Hoffmann in 2013 and returned this summer to perform the title role of Carmen in a production by Calixto Bieito. During the 2015–16 Season, Ms. Roberts joined the ensemble of the Deutsche Oper Berlin where she appeared as Carmen, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro. She also performed the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos with Palm Beach Opera and made her debut at London’s Wigmore Hall in recital with tenor Bryan Hymel and pianist Julius Drake. Past seasons have seen Ms. Roberts at the Metropolitan Opera (Le Nozze di Figaro and Parsifal), Palm Beach Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Atlanta Opera.
Ms. Roberts will join a cast of established and rising Asian singers in Dream of the Red Chamber, including Chinese tenor Yijie Shi (in the role of Bao Yu); South Korean soprano Pureum Jo (Dai Yu); South Korean mezzo-soprano Hyona Kim (Lady Wang); in her U.S. debut, Chinese contralto Qiulin Zhang (Granny Jia); Taiwanese soprano and Merola Opera Program alumna Karen Chia-ling Ho (Princess Jia); and Chinese-American mezzo-soprano and former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Yanyu Guo (Aunt Xue).
The Company also announced several new cast members for the work today. Tenor Alex Boyer and current San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows tenor Pene Pati and baritone Edward Nelson will perform the ensemble roles of Eunuchs and The Stone while a trio of current Adler Fellows—sopranos Amina Edris and Toni Marie Palmertree, and mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde—will assume the ensemble roles of Handmaidens and The Crimson-Pearl Flower. Bay Area actor Randall Nakano will make his San Francisco Opera debut in the non-singing role of The Monk.
Based on one of the great classical novels of Chinese literature by 18th-century Q’ing dynasty writer Cao Xueqin, Dream of the Red Chamber will be brought to life by an all-star creative team of acclaimed Taiwanese director and playwright Stan Lai and designer Tim Yip, who is perhaps best known for his Oscar-winning art direction in Ang Lee’s 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
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The commission of Dream of the Red Chamber was initiated and funded by the Chinese Heritage Foundation Friends of Minnesota, with leadership support from the Dr. M. F. Tchou Memorial Fund of the Chinese Heritage Foundation, Benjamin Y. H. and Helen C. Liu, and Ruth Stricker and the late Bruce Dayton.
This production is made possible, in part, by Company Sponsors John A. & Cynthia Fry Gunn, the Edmund W. and Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Fund, United Airlines, grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and funding from OPERA America’s Opera Fund.
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DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER by Bright Sheng*
September 10 (7:30 p.m.), 13 (7:30 p.m.), 18 (2 p.m.), 23 (7:30 p.m.), 27 (7:30 p.m.), 29 (7:30 pm), 2016
Libretto by David Henry Hwang* and Bright Sheng*
Based on the book by Cao Xueqin
Commissioned by San Francisco Opera
Approximate running time: 3 hours including one intermission
Sung in English with English supertitles
Dai Yu | Pureum Jo*
Bao Yu | Yijie Shi*
Lady Wang | Hyona Kim*
Bao | ChaiIrene Roberts
Princess Jia | Karen Chia-ling Ho*
Granny Jia | Qiulin Zhang*
Aunt Xue | Yanyu Guo
The Monk | Randall Nakano*
Eunuchs / Stone | Alex Boyer, Edward Nelson†, Pene Pati†
Handmaidens / Flower | Amina Edris†, Toni Marie Palmertree†, Zanda Švēde†
Conductor | George Manahan
Director | Stan Lai*
Production Designer | Tim Yip*
Lighting Designer | Gary Marder
Chorus Director | Ian Robertson
Choreographer | Fang-Yi Sheu*
San Francisco Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Chorus and San Francisco Opera Dance Corps
* San Francisco Opera debut
† Current Adler Fellow