Songs from The Santa Fe Opera, Episode 5: David Henry Hwang and Huang Ruo’s M. BUTTERFLY Starring Kangmin Justin Kim on August 1

On Saturday, August 1st at 9 PM EST, The Santa Fe Opera continues the digital performance series of their previously scheduled 64th Summer Festival Season Opening Nights, thanks to Thornburg Investment Management‘s generous sponsorship of “Songs from the Santa Fe Opera.”

Composer Huang Ruo and librettist David Henry Hwang following the world premiere preview of their new opera, M. BUTTERFLY at the Asia Society on November 20, 2019. Photo by Lia Chang

Hosted by tenor Joshua Dennis, Episode Five of their online performances celebrates what would have been their 2020 season world premiere. “M. Butterfly,” composed by Huang Ruo with a libretto by playwright David Henry Hwang, adapted from his Tony award-winning play of the same name. The presentation will open with the beautiful Humming Chorus from this new opera, and includes a performance by Kangmin Justin Kim who was to sing the role of M. Butterfly. In addition, dramaturg Cori Ellison offers notes and there will be a conversation between the composer and the librettist, hosted by SFO Artistic Director Alexander Neef.

Kangmin Justin Kim. Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Opera/Facebook

Free to watch, the video will premiere on the Santa Fe Opera’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, IGTV and website at 7 pm MT and will remain available to view thereafter.

Pre-recorded from the Santa Fe Opera stage and in artist homes around the world, Songs from The Santa Fe Opera presents a combination of fresh content and never-before-seen archival footage. All activities are completed in accordance with current safety guidelines. ⁠

Asia Society Triennial Executive Chairman Agnes Hsu-Tang, PhD with (from left to right) composer Huang Ruo, librettist David Henry Hwang, countertenor Kangmin Justin Kim at the Asia Society on November 20, 2019. Photo by Lia Chang

Viewers can follow along with the festivities and participate at home by dressing up in their favorite Opening Night fashions for a tailgate party in the backyard! We invite our audience to use the following hashtags to share these virtual nights at the opera with us and other opera fans: #SantaFeOpera #SongsfromSFO #ShowUsYourTailgate #SFOFashion

The Santa Fe Opera also respectfully asks supporters to consider a gift during this time of great need. Upon the premiere of each “Songs from The Santa Fe Opera” episode, patrons and viewers will have the opportunity to make a donation online.

Met Opera 2019 National Council Auditions Winner William Guanbo Su, Asia Society Vice President of Global Arts and Cultural Programs and Director Boon Hui Tan and Asia Society Triennial Executive Chairman Agnes Hsu-Tang, PhD with members of the Santa Fe Opera Board of Directors including (from left to right) Barbara & Chuck Moore, Bruce Chemel, Board President-Elect David Henry Jacobs, and Kevin & Dannehl Twomey. Photo by Lia Chang

Based on Hwang’s 1988 Tony Award-winning and Pulitzer-Prize finalist Broadway play, M. Butterfly is the story of René Gallimard, a French diplomat who carried on a 20-year love affair with Song Liling, a Peking opera star with an astonishing secret that leads to Gallimard’s professional and personal ruin. The story’s many parallels with Puccini’s well-known Madama Butterfly are echoed in the new opera’s music, composed by the celebrated young Chinese American composer Huang Ruo.

Huang Ruo’s (composer) first collaboration with The Santa Fe Opera was the American premiere of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, his first opera, in 2014. Admitted to the Shanghai Conservatory at age twelve, Chinese-born Huang Ruo moved to the U.S. to continue his education, earning a BM from Oberlin’s Conservatory of Music and MM and DMA degrees from Juilliard. Now a U.S. citizen, The New Yorker cited Huang Ruo as “one of the most intriguing of the new crop of Asian-American composers.” His writing spans orchestra, chamber music, opera, theater, and modern dance to sound installation, multimedia, folk rock, and film. Reflecting his life story, he strives to create a seamless integration between Eastern and Western elements, integrating influences from Chinese folk, Western avant-garde, rock, and jazz to create a seamless, organic whole.

David Henry Hwang’s (librettist) stage works includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Yellow Face, Kung Fu, Golden Child, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, and the Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival) and Disney’s Tarzan. 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 is also America’s most-produced living American opera librettist (two Grammy Awards), and co-wrote the Gold Record Solo with the late pop icon Prince. Since 2015, he has been a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series “The Affair”. Hwang serves as Head of Playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts, and as Chair of the American Theatre Wing. His newest work, Soft Power, a collaboration with composer Jeanine Tesori, received its New York premiere this fall at the Public Theater.

Broadwayworld: Photo Flash: Asia Society And The Santa Fe Opera Present David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo’s M. BUTTERFLY Opera Working Rehearsal 

Broadwayworld: Photo Flash: New-York Historical Society Presents Excerpts Of David Henry Hwang And Huang Ruo’s Opera, AN AMERICAN SOLDIER

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. The Lia Chang theater portfolio collection,1989-2011, is in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) collection located in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room and can be accessed here.

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