(K. Brent Tomer),
“DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER” is not a run-of-the-mill production for the San Francisco Opera, America’s second-largest company. To be sung in English, it had to be adapted from a 2,500-page 18th-century Chinese novel. Its principal cast members are all Asian. Most members of the creative team—composer, librettist, stage director and production designer—have Chinese backgrounds. None of this is a hindrance. Three-quarters of the tickets for the opera’s full run, which began on September 10th, were sold a month ahead of the premiere. And it has set a new record for San Francisco’s most expensive opening-gala table: $250,000 for 10 people.
One obvious reason for the success is enthusiastic support from the Chinese-American community, which is proud to see China’s most celebrated piece of literature introduced to a wider audience. “Dream of the Red Chamber”, also known as “The Story of the Stone”, is to Chinese people as Shakespeare is to English speakers. But unlike Shakespeare, it remains virtually unknown outside its home country.
The story follows the rise and fall of the noble Jia Family. At the beginning of the novel, the family is…Continue reading