The Minneapolis-based Chinese Heritage Foundation’s commission “Dream of the Red Chamber” by San Francisco Opera will be touring the People’s Republic of China this month.  The tour will include two performances each in  three Chinese cities: 

Sept. 8 & 9 in Beijing’s Poly Theatre 

Sept. 15 & 16 in Changsha.  The two performances are part of the grand opening of the Meixihu International Culture and Arts Centre Grand Theatre, one of the last projects designed by the late British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid

Sept. 22 & 23 in Wuhan’s Qintai Grand Theatre 

The “Dream of the Red Chamber” performances will be conducted by Bright Sheng, marking the composer’s first time conducting his opera.  In Beijing, Sheng will lead the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra; in Changsha and Wuhan, he will be joined in the pit by the Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra. The Chorus of the State Opera of Dnipro, Ukraine, will sing at each performance.  “Dream of the Red Chamber” will be presented in the original production by acclaimed Taiwanese director Stan Lai and Oscar-winning Chinese designer Tim Yip.  Performances will be by the original world premiere cast members.

San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock said, “Dream of the Red Chamber” had a profound impact in connecting San Francisco Opera to its broader Bay Area community ... I couldn’t be more proud that San Francisco Opera was the birthplace of a work that speaks so powerfully to such a broad audience.”

“Dream” played to capacity crowds at its world premiere at San Francisco Opera’s War Memorial Opera House last September 10 and at the 45th Hong Kong Arts Festival in March 2017.  The San Francisco Chronicle hailed the opera’s “series of tautly constructed scenes that reveal the canniness of Sheng’s compositional strategy — in particular, his skill in crafting an operatic language that is a hybrid of Chinese and Western traditions.”

Adapted from Cao Xueqin’s lengthy 18th-century novel, the opera focuses on the illustrious Jia clan and the love triangle of Bao Yu, the young Jia heir, with two very different women: Dai Yu, his soulmate, and Bao Chai, a worldly beauty.  The Jia family’s future and union between Bao Yu and Dai Yu are jeopardized when the emperor rejects Princess Jia as his favored concubine.  Framed by a dreamlike prologue and epilogue,”Dream” relates the poetry and sadness of the original Chinese tale as a lush and lyrical 21st–century opera.

The opera first took root when Pearl Bergad, executive director of the Minneapolis-based Chinese Heritage Foundation, approached former San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley in 2013 about producing an opera based on the classic novel by the same name catering to non-Chinese speaking audiences.  The tour performances will be sung in English with subtitles in both English and Chinese.


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The subject of Pat Hui’s recent annual art exhibit held at the studio she shares with her partner Paul Kwok at the Traffic Zone Gallery in Minneapolis, was “Su Shi, (Dong Po) 1037-1101,”  Su was one of China’s most celebrated poet, essayist and calligrapher.  “For the past 60 years, I have collected copies of the calligraphy scripts and copied his style of writing,” stated Hui.  In the past 35 years, she has formed her own style of incorporating poetry, painting and calligraphy:  The Three Perfections.  All the works in Hui’s exhibition were organized to commemorate the 980th birth year of Su Shi, aka Su Dong Po.  It features works such as the immortal works of the “Red Cliff” poem I and II, the Cold Food Festival script and many others. 

According to multiple resources such as Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia, references used in this article, it has been documented that Su emerged as one of the most prominent poets in Chinese history amidst the political bickering of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).  Su, also known as Su Dong Po, has since become renowned for his warm, detail-oriented poetry that has inspired Chinese through the ages. 

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The Minneapolis Institute of Art held its annual “Art in Bloom” last month.  Next month, San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum will present “Flower Power” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco.  The exhibit will feature pan-Asian artworks that reveal the “powerful language of flowers across times and cultures.”  The exhibit begins June 23 and runs through Oct. 1.

Any mention of the phenomenal Summer of Love of 1967 and what immediately pops into mind?  Images from the counter-culture San Francisco scene: hippies with long hair blowing in the wind, dancing in Golden Gate Park and/or tripping out on the streets of the Haight-Ashbury district.  Some might even have flowers in their hair!  So it is fitting that 50 years later, “Flower Power” is celebrated in the form of an art exhibition that “invites audiences to explore the lasting appeal and surprising stories of six flowers as distinctive as their blooms,” as stated in the Asian Art Museum’s press release.

scholars' rocksThree magnificent “scholars' rocks” from the historic Quinling Mountains in central China traveled across the world and arrived at the Arboretum in Chanhassen one snowy day last December

The scholars’ rocks at the Arboretum are a gift from the People's Republic of China, Shaanxi Province and University of Science & Technology and will be incorporated into  the Phase 2 construction of the new Chinese Garden.  The rocks weigh from 7,000 - 32,000 pounds and are a key element in the traditional design of a classic  Chinese gardens.  One of the rocks features calligraphy of a couplet carved into it.  The poetic inscription reads: 聚天地大美,蕴秦汉魂魄, which loosely translates into “Beauty of earth and sky united, Soul of Qinling Mountain forever dwelled.”

All who visit the Arboretum will be able to learn more about Chinese culture and traditions.  A plaque at the Chinese garden will be installed recognizing the story of these magnificent rocks from the Qinling mountains and the friendship with the Chinese people. 

Phase 2 construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2017.  Meanwhile, the scholars’ rocks are temporarily housed in a parking lot near Three Mile Drive.  When construction is completed, the rocks will be relocated to their permanent location, based on recommendations from a community advisory committee. 

Consul General HONG Lei, Chinese Consulate General in Chicago, sent a nice note to the Arboretum saying, “We very much appreciate your strong support for a good relations between Minnesota and China!  We will join hands with you!”


flower drumFor the first time ever, Park Square and Mu Performing Arts will join forces to co-produce the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Flower Drum Song.”  Based on the 2002 book adaptation by Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang (“M. Butterfly,” “Yellowface,” “Chinglish”), the production will be directed by Mu Artistic Director Randy Reyes.  Previously produced by Mu in 2009, this will be a fully reimagined production featuring new and familiar faces.  “Flower Drum Song” takes audiences to the vibrant world of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1950s to Club Chop Suey, a nightclub owned by a Chinese-American family.  Old World tradition clashes with New World trends as two generations, father and son, struggle to honor and protect their cultural traditions while adapting to the changing times. 

CAAM Horizweb2

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