Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Dream of the Red Chamber to be featured at the 2015 Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival February 20-21, including the Symposium with David Gockley, Bright Sheng, David Henry Hwang and Stan Lai

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

The San Francisco Opera is presenting the world premiere commission, Dream of the Red Chamber by renowned Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng (Madame Mao, The Silver River), featuring an English-language libretto by the composer and Tony Award–winning Chinese-American playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly and Chinglish) at the War Memorial Opera House in Fall 2016. Dream of the Red Chamber will be conducted by American maestro George Manahan and staged by celebrated Taiwanese director Stan Lai in his Company debut.

In collaboration with San Francisco Opera, the 2015 Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival will preview the upcoming world premiere with a free panel discussion and performances of an excerpt from the opera by the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra from China on February 20 and 21 at Stanford University.

Dream of the Red Chamber at the 2015 Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival
February 20–21

The 2015 Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival will preview Dream of the Red Chamber at several events on Friday, February 20 and Saturday, February 21:

• FREE SYMPOSIUM, 12:30pm-2:00pm on February 20 at Levinthal Hall, Stanford Humanities Center
San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley and Dream of the Red Chamber composer Bright Sheng, librettist David Henry Hwang and director Stan Lai join Stanford’s Director of Orchestral Studies Jindong Cai for a panel discussion moderated by journalist Sheila Melvin exploring the making of this new opera and the relationship between contemporary Asian and American music. A light lunch will be provided for the audience. This event is free, but RSVP is required for admission by contacting

• SHENZHEN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, 7:30pm on February 20 & 21 at Bing Concert Hall
The Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra, in its first visit to the United States, will perform a scene from Dream of the Red Chamber as part of its February 20–21 concerts at the 2015 Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival. Joining the orchestra to perform a love duet from the opera are soprano Amy Owens, a 2014 Sullivan Foundation Award winner, and tenor Joseph Dennis, who garnered much acclaim last summer when he stepped into the title role of Huang Ruo’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen at Santa Fe Opera on less than two weeks’ notice. The February 20 concert will be preceded by a pre-concert talk at 6:30pm featuring Bright Sheng and conductor Jindong Cai. Tickets: $30 general, $20 student, $10 for students with Stanford ID; available at or by calling (650) 725-2787.

Now in its eleventh year, the Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival has established itself as one of the most important Asian Music Festivals in the U.S. For more information, visit

David Henry Hwang‘s work includes the plays M.ButterflyChinglishYellow FaceGolden ChildThe Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival), and Tarzan. Upcoming productions include two new musicals: The Forgotten Arm, with music and lyrics by Aimee Mann and Paul Bryan, for the Public Theater; and Pretty Dead Girl, with music and lyrics by Anne-Marie Milazzo.

As America’s most-produced living opera librettist, he has written four pieces with composer Philip Glass, including The Voyage (Metropolitan Opera, 1992), as well as Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar (two 2007 Grammy Awards), Bright Sheng’s The Silver River (1997), Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland (2007 “World Premiere of the Year” by Opernwelt magazine), Howard Shore’s The Fly (2008) and Huang Ruo’s An American Soldier (2014). Upcoming operas include Through the Looking Glass with Unsuk Chin for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Dream of the Red Chamber with Bright Sheng for the San Francisco Opera.

Mr. Hwang penned the screenplays for M. Butterfly (1993), starring Jeremy Irons and John Lone; Golden Gate (1994), starring Matt Dillon and Joan Chen; and Possession (co-writer, 2002), starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart. With the pop star Prince, he co-wrote the song “Solo,” released on Prince’s 1994 gold album Come. He is currently writing a feature film for Dreamworks Animation and the film adaptation of Chinglish, to be directed by Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow, the Fast & Furious franchise), as well as creating an original television series, “Shanghai,” for Lions Gate and Bravo. He is currently a writer on the Golden Globe award-winning Showtime television series, “The Affair.”

Hwang is a Tony Award® winner and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner, and a two-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He received the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award, the 2012 William Inge Award, the 2012 Steinberg “Mimi” Award, and the 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award, and recently completed his the Residency One Playwright term at NYC’s Signature Theatre, which produced a season of his plays, including the world premiere of his newest work Kung Fu in February 2014. He serves as President of Young Playwrights Inc, and sits on the boards of the Lark Play Development Center, The American Theatre Wing, and The Actors Fund. In 2015, Hwang received the 2015 ISPA Distinguished Artist Award.

Photos: Tony Award Winning Playwright David Henry Hwang, NEFA, Graham Sheffield CBE and Susan Stockton Receive 2015 ISPA Awards

George Manahan

George Manahan

Conductor George Manahan, known for his vast experience bringing new works to the stage of opera companies nationwide, made his San Francisco Opera debut leading the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne in 2013. He is currently music director of the American Composers Orchestra and Portland Opera. Winner of the prestigious Ditson Conductor’s Award in 2012 for his support of American music, Manahan’s esteemed career includes serving as music director of New York City Opera for fourteen seasons. Manahan also serves as director of orchestral studies at the Manhattan School of Music and guest conductor at the Curtis Institute of Music.

Stan Lai

Stan Lai

Stan Lai (Lai Shengchuan) is one of the most acclaimed playwright/directors in Asia, known not only for creating some of the most memorable works for the contemporary Chinese stage but also for creating bold new genres and staging innovations. He is artistic director of Performance Workshop in Taiwan and festival artistic director of China’s Wuzhen Theatre. Lai’s works, which include over 30 original plays, two feature films, and four operas, include his epic play A Dream Like A Dream (2000), “the most elaborate theater work in Chinese history” (China Daily), and Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land (1986), “the most popular contemporary play in China” (New York Times). Born in the U.S. and based in Taiwan, Lai received a Ph.D. in dramatic art from UC Berkeley. He was a professor and founding dean of the College of Theatre at Taipei National University of the Arts, and has also been a visiting professor and artist in residence at Berkeley and Stanford University. In 2015, his Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land will have its United States premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The new work is based on the book Dream of the Red Chamber by 18th-century Qing Dynasty writer Cao Xuequin, considered one of the four great classical novels of historic Chinese literature. Dream of the Red Chamber continues San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley’s notable record of commissioning new operatic works, including Stewart Wallace’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter, based on Amy Tan’s novel and featuring a libretto by the author. In June 2015, San Francisco Opera’s presentation of Marco Tutino’s Two Women (La Ciociara) will mark Gockley’s 40th career world premiere and his seventh commission for the Company to date.

The commission of Dream of the Red Chamber was initiated and funded by the Chinese Heritage Foundation Friends of Minnesota, with leadership support from Mrs. Ming Li Tchou. This production is sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

David Henry Hwang Articles:
Unsuk Chin’s Opera Alice in Wonderland, Featuring Libretto Co-Written with David Henry Hwang, Set for UK Premiere at the Barbican Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Novels on March 8, 2015
The Old Globe Presents World Premiere of Christopher Gattelli Helmed IN YOUR ARMS Featuring Vignettes written by David Henry Hwang, Rajiv Joseph, Douglas Carter Beane, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Carrie Fisher, Terrence McNally, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage, and Alfred Uhry, September 16 – October 25
Photos: Tony Award Winning Playwright David Henry Hwang, NEFA, Graham Sheffield CBE and Susan Stockton Receive 2015 ISPA Awards
Tony Award Winning Playwright David Henry Hwang to Receive 2015 Distinguished Artist Award at New York 2015 ISPA Congress Awards Dinner on January 14, 2015
Dec. 1: Behind the Scenes with Disney on Broadway with David Henry Hwang, Chad Beguelin and Rick Elice at New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Aug. 17: David Henry Hwang, Adriane Lenox, Chuck Cooper, Kevin Carolan, Stephanie J. Block, Caissie Levy & More will Sleep on the Streets for Covenant House’s Sleep Out: Broadway Edition
David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage Appointed to the Playwriting Faculty of Columbia University School of the Arts Theatre Program
Tony Award Winning Playwright David Henry Hwang Receives $275,000 Doris Duke Artist Award
Signature’s Production of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu, starring Cole Horibe, Phoebe Strole and Francis Jue, extends through April 6, 2014 
Photos: Backstage and Opening Night of Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu 
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph honored at Sixth Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards 
Click here for more articles on David Henry Hwang.

Other articles by Lia Chang:
BETWEEN RIVERSIDE & CRAZY’s Stephen Adly Guirgis, actor Stephen McKinley Henderson and director Austin Pendleton set for THEATER TALK on February 13
THE GET DOWN, Baz Luhrmann’s New Drama Series Set in 1970s NYC That Gave Birth to Hip-Hop, Punk and Disco, to Premiere on Netflix in 2016
The American Playwriting Foundation Creates The Relentless Award to Honor the late Philip Seymour Hoffman
BAMcinématek presents John Carpenter’s BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA on February 13; Funko to Release Big Trouble in Little China Pop! and ReAction Figures Ken Jeong to Star in ABC Medical Comedy Pilot ‘Dr. Ken’
Photos: Hudson Yang, Randall Park, Eddie Huang, Richard Lui, Lori Tan Chinn and More at #FreshOffTheBoat Viewing Party at The Circle NYC
Rehearsal Photos: Jennifer Lim, Francis Jue, Telly Leung, Jo Mei, James Saito and Sue Jin Song in MTC Run of World Premiere of The World of Extreme Happiness by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, February 3 – March 29
The Greene Space at WNYC presents Preview Screenings of ABC’s FRESH OFF THE BOAT; Conversation with Amy Chua, Awkwafina & Jay Smooth, moderated by Jeff Yang
Video and Photos: BD Wong and Russell Wong Guest Star on ‘NCIS: NEW ORLEANS’, Episode 1.13 – The Walking Dead
MTC Run of World Premiere of The World of Extreme Happiness by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, starring Jennifer Lim, Francis Jue, Telly Leung, Jo Mei, James Saito and Sue Jin Song, Begins Previews February 3
The Drama Book Shop Video: Playwright Ayad Akhtar, Josh Radnor and Aasif Mandvi Talk DISGRACED
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Advantageous, Oh Lucy!, Meru, Umrika, The Chinese Mayor, The Stanford Prison Experiment Among 2015 Sundance Film Festival Award Winners
Photos: Lillias White, Scott Wakefield, Ebony Jo-Ann, Tina Fabrique, Marjorie Johnson, Akin Babatundé, Alan Govenar and More at TEXAS IN PARIS at The York Theatre Company
New York City Blizzard Does Not Deter Broadway Icon Chita Rivera From Performing in Concert Taping for THIRTEEN’s Great Performances Series
Feb. 20-Mar. 27: Trestle Gallery Presents “Swimming Awkward Moment,” the newest works by painter Arlan Huang
Novelist Jessica Hagedorn, Neal Katyal of Hogan Lovells, and John W. Kuo of Varian Medical Systems, to receive AALDEF 2015 Justice in Action Awards on February 23
Mar. 4: Tony Award-Winner Lillias White, Carol Fredette & More to be Honored at 30th Annual Bistro Awards at Gotham Comedy Club
Lincoln Center Theater’s The King and I, Starring Ken Watanabe, Kelli O’Hara, Ruthie Ann Miles, Conrad Ricamora, Jon Viktor Corpuz, Paul Nakauchi and More Kick off Rehearsals; Previews Begin March 12
Broadway Bound Doctor Zhivago Featuring Tam Mutu, Kelli Barrett, Tom Hewitt, Paul Nolan, Lora Lee Gayer, Melody Butiu and More Kicks Off Rehearsal; Previews Begin March 27
Rajiv Joseph Wins Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award for New Play Guards at the Taj; Set for World Premiere at Atlantic Theater Company in May
Photos: Tony Award Winning Playwright David Henry Hwang, NEFA, Graham Sheffield CBE and Susan Stockton Receive 2015 ISPA Awards
Photos: Late Night at HERE LIES LOVE with Jaygee Macapugay, David Byrne, Jose Llana, Conrad Ricamora, Melody Butiu and More
THE WIZ Turns 40- Photos from Original Broadway Production and BC/EFA Gypsy of The Year Celebration Featuring André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ken Page, Charl Brown, Carly Hughes, Christina Sajous, Alton Fitzgerald White, Lillias White and More
Photos: Fashion Designer Josie Natori at New Boutique in Nolita; Honored by Asian Cultural Council
Photos: Ellen Burstyn, Baz Luhrmann, John Leguizamo, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Stephen McKinley Henderson, John Patrick Shanley, David Henry Hwang, Liza Colón-Zayas, Kenneth Lonergan and More Celebrate Stephen Adly Guirgis at The Mimi Awards
Stephen Adly Guirgis to Receive the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award at the Seventh Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards on November 17
Photos: Tommy Tune, Bob Avian, Lee Roy Reams, Christine Toy Johnson, Orville Mendoza, Lori Tan Chinn, Raul Aranas, Virginia Wing and More Celebrate 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award Recipient Baayork Lee Crafting a Career
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

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