Viewpoints: Made in China: New Voices in Western Opera

Viewpoints: Made in China: New Voices in Western Opera

Ying Huang
Ying Huang. (Courtesy of the artist)

Watch the program here. 

Confirming Time magazine's prediction that "the future of opera may be in China," state-of-the-art Chinese theaters now showcase Western repertory and new Chinese works, while Chinese-born singers have grabbed the spotlight on opera stages across the globe. Soprano Ying Huang and baritone Yunpeng Wang join pianist Siyi Fang to explore the shifting role of China on the international opera stage. This program will include live excerpts, film clips, and a lively discussion with music critic Ken Smith.

Hailed as "the nightingale from China," the renowned lyric coloratura Ying Huang is one of the outstanding vocal artists active in opera and concert performances worldwide. After first gaining international attention in the title role in Frédéric Mitterrand's 1995 film adaptation of Madame Butterfly, she later sang the role of Pamina in the Metropolitan Opera's inaugural HD telecast of The Magic Flute in 2006 and three years later was included in the "Wall of Fame" in the Met's 125th Anniversary celebration. A champion of contemporary Chinese operas, she has created the leading roles in many new works, including Tan Dun's Peony Pavilion, Guo Wenjing's Poet Li Bai, and Zhou Long's Madame White Snake, which won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize.

A dynamic 25-year-old baritone, Yunpeng Wang performs regularly on three continents. In 2012, he won Second Place (as well as the Audience Award and the coveted Zarzuela Prize) at Plácido Domingo's Operalia Competition in Beijing. He made his Lincoln Center debut in 2013 in the I Sing Beijing Program at Alice Tully Hall with the New York City Opera Orchestra. A graduate of China's Central Conservatory and the Manhattan School of Music, Wang is currently a member of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development program. He will make his Metropolitan Opera debut this coming November in The Barber of Seville as Fiorello.

Born in Guangzhou, pianist Siyi Fang came to the United States in 2005 as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan and was recently awarded a Master's degree in collaborative piano at the Juilliard School. A former assistant to the music director of the Beijing Oriental Songlei Musical Company, she was a pianist and musical coach for Chen Shi-zheng's acrobatic music-theatre piece Monkey: Journey to the West at Lincoln Center. She is currently a fellow of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.

Journalist and author Ken Smith divides his time between Hong Kong, where he is the Asian performing arts critic for the Financial Times, and New York, where he writes for Gramophone magazine. A regular columnist for Opera magazine of Shanghai, he also covers opera in China for Opera magazine (UK) and Opera Now. He is the author of Fate! Luck! Chance! Amy Tan, Stewart Wallace and the Making of The Bonesetter's Daughter Opera and Talking about Music《談音說樂), published by Beijing Normal University Press.

Viewpoints is an annual series featuring prominent, visionary figures in the creative arts and is made possible by the generous support of Aashish and Dinyar S. Devitre.

Can't make it to this program? Tune in to AsiaSociety.org/Live at 6:30 pm New York time for a free live video webcast. Viewers are encouraged to submit questions to [email protected] or to tweet their questions to #AskAsia.

Event Details

19 June 2014
6:30pm - 8:00pm


725 Park Avenue, New York, NY

$15 members; $17 students/seniors; $20 nonmembers