In Quest of 21st Century Operas

The following is a list of operas, each composed in the second or third decade of the 21st century, performances of which I am scheduled to review at the San Francisco and Santa Fe Operas.

The Dream of the Red Chamber (Sheng and Hwang), San Francisco Opera, June 14, 17, 19, 23, 25, July 1 and 3, 2022..

Bright Sheng’s “The Dream of the Red Chamber”, based on episodes from the 18th century classical work of that name, returns to the San Francisco Opera a half-decade after its world premiere at the War Memorial Opera House.

Returning artists include Yijie Shi as Bao Yu, Hyona Kim as Lady Wang and Karen Chia-Ling Ho as Princess Jia. Meigui Zhang will be Dai Yu, Sabina Kim is Granny Jia and Guang Yang is Ant Xue.

[Below: a scene from the 2016 San Francisco Opera Tim Yip production of Sheng’s and Hwang’s “The Dream of the Red Chamber”; edited image, bssed on a Cory Weaver photograph, courtesy of the San Francisco Opera.]

Stan Lai again directs. The conductor is Maestro Darrell Ang.

[For my 2016 review of the world premiere performance, see: World Premiere Review: “The Dream of the Red Chamber” Transforms into a Fascinating Opera – San Francisco Opera, September 10, 2016.]

M. Butterfly (Ro and Hwang), Santa Fe Opera, July 30, August 3, 12, 18 and 24, 2022

The Santa Fe Opera commissioned Huang Ro, whose opera “Doctor Sun-Yat Sen” had its world premiere in Santa Fe’s 2014 season, to compose the music for an operatic version of David Henry Hwang’s play M. Butterfly. Hwang will be Ro’s librettist.

[Below: Kangmin Justin Kim who will create the role of Song Liling in Ro and Hwang’s “M. Butterfly”; edited image of a publicity photograph, courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera.]

Korean countertenor is M. Butterfly (Song Liling). British baritone Mark Stone is the French diplomat René Gallimard. Chinese mezzo-soprano Honing Wu is both Comrade Chin and Shu Fang. California tenor Joshua Dennis is Marc. Tennessee bass Kevin Burdette is Manuel Toulon and a Judge.

Maestra Carolyn Kuan conducts, James Robinson directs. The sets are Allen Moyer, the costumes by James Schuette.

For my previous world premiere review of a Huang Ro opera, see: Review: Santa Fe Opera Shows its Mettle in Mounting Huang Ruo’s “Doctor Sun Yat-Sen” – July 30, 2014

Antony and Cleopatra (Adams and Shakespeare et al.) September 10, 15, 18(m), 23, 27, October 2 (m) and 5, 2022

To date composer John Adams has had four of his operas performed by the San Francisco Opera. Three of these (“Death of Klinghoffer”, “Doctor Atomic” and “GIrls of the Golden West”) are the results of co-commissions between the San Francisco Opera and other opera companies, and a fourth, “Nixon in China”, is associated with the earlier career of recently retired San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley.

[Below: Composer John Adams; edited image of a Drew Altizer photograph, courtesy of the San Francisco Opera.]

San Francisco Opera’s centennial season (2022-2023) is scheduled to open with the world premiere of a new Adams work. Unlike his four previous works that deal with mid-20th century (and late 19th century) subject matter, Adams will tackle a classical historical subject based on Shakespeare’s interpretation of the relationships between the Egyptian queen Cleopatra and the Romans Mark Antony and Julius Caesar.

Julia Bullock is Cleopatra; Gerald Finley is Antony. Caesar is Paul Appleby. Caesar’s sister Octavia is Elizabeteh DeShong. Rounding out the cast is Alfred Walker, Taylor Raven and Brenton Ryan. Maestra Eun Sun Kim conducts. Elkhanah Pulitzer directors. The sets are by Mimi Lien, the costumes by Constance Hoffman. Bill Morrison is projection designer.

For my reviews of “Nixon in China” see: Review: 25 Years Old, “Nixon in China” Arrives at San Francisco Opera, June 8, 2012 and Review: San Diego Opera’s “Nixon in China” with Pomponi, Kanyova, Kim and Shelton – March 20, 2015.

For my review of a performance of “Doctor Atomic”, see: Review: Ryan McKinny Excels as “Doctor Atomic’s” Oppenheimer – Santa Fe Opera, July 27, 2018

For my world premiere review of “Girls”, see World Premiere Review: Adams’ “Girls of the Golden West”, San Francisco Opera, November 21, 2017.

El Último Sueno de Frida y Diego (Frank and Cruz), June 13, 17, 22, 25 (m) and 30, 2023

The subject matter of the new Spanish language opera – “The Ultimate Dream of Frida and Diego” – is the communication on 1957’s “Day of the Dead” between the elderly artist Diego Rivera and his departed lover Frida Kahlo. Observing the strict rules that govern encounters between the living and the dead, Frida agrees to join Diego for a few hours to remember their tumultuous relationship.

The work is a co-commission with the San Diego Opera (which hosts the opera’s world premiere in October, 2022), the Fort Worth Opera and the DePauw University School of Music.

[Below: Artists Diego Rivera (left) and Frida Kahlo (right); resized image of a painting that is part of the Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico.]

Mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack is Frida and baritone Alfredo Daza is Diego. Soprano Yaritza Véliz and counter-tenor Jacob Ingbar round out the cast. Maestro Roberto Kalb conducts. Lorena Maza directs. The sets are by Jorge Ballina, the costumes by Eloise Kazan.

This list is supplementary to previous lists in this “Quests and Anticipations” series of selected operas being performed through August, 2022:

Mozart’s and da Ponte’s “Don Giovanni” and Tchaikovsky’s and Shilovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” at the San Francisco Opera. [See In Quest of 2021 and 2022 Opera Performances in California and Arizona].

Bizet’s and Meilhac/Halévy‘s “Carmen”, Rossini’s and Sterbini’s “The Barber of Seville”, Verdi’s ane Boito’s “Falstaff” and Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” at the Santa Fe Opera [See In Quest of Core Repertory Operas in Santa Fe Opera’s Summer 2022 Season.]