By Wendy Tai, member, “Dream” Committee
More than five years ago, the beloved founder of the Chinese Heritage Foundation, Ming Tchou, shared her vision for a modern day English opera of the Chinese classic tale, “Dream of the Red Chamber.“
Her dream is becoming a reality.
A year from now, the San Francisco Opera will be performing the world premiere of “Dream of the Red Chamber,” composed and written by Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang. Thanks to the generous support of many, the foundation is close to meeting its fundraising goal of $300,000, which underwrites the commissioning fees and other expenses.
“We’re deeply grateful that so many people share our excitement for this project,” said Pearl Bergad, executive director of the Foundation. “This opera has aroused great interest here and abroad, and it will provide many memorable opportunities for people to enjoy the story as the worldwide readership has for generations.”
The foundation’s “Dream” Committee is calling on community members to help support the opera project in its final push to get past its fundraising goal.
Donors of $100 or more will be invited to a private luncheon in early November for a preview of the opera with singers for the two lead characters performing excerpts. A separate private dinner reception will be held for those who donate $1,000 or more to meet Sheng and Hwang, both of whom are eager to share their creation with local supporters.
The foundation held two fundraising luncheons over the summer to preview the storyline and characters of the opera, a tale of love and intrigue that has been a must-read for students across Chinese speaking regions. It has been the subject of movies, TV series and various Chinese operas through decades, but this will be the first contemporary rendition performed in English.
The commissioning of this opera has spurred interest in the “Dream of the Red Chamber.” Opera America will preview excerpts in January 2016. The University of Minnesota Department of Asian Languages will offer a graduate-level course on “Dream” in January, with a free online course in June. The U’s Confucius Institute also is creating lesson plans on “Dream” for school-age children in 2016.
The committee expects continuing interest as the opera debuts in S.F., with “Dream of the Red Chamber” to live on for many in the coming years.