Artistic Team Named for World Premiere "Dream of the Red Chamber"

Release date: 2/13/2015

Conductor George Manahan and Director Stan Lai Join Artistic Team for San Francisco Opera’s World Premiere of Dream Of The Red Chamber by Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang, Scheduled for Fall 2016

Dream Of The Red Chamber to be Featured at 2015 Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival February 20-21, Including Symposium with David Gockley, Bright Sheng, David Henry Hwang and Stan Lai

Dream of the Red Chamber - Lai and Manahan.pdf  Photos Available

San Francisco Opera today announced two key artistic personnel for the Company’s world premiere commission, Dream of the Red Chamber by renowned Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng (Madame Mao, The Silver River). Premiering Fall 2016 at the War Memorial Opera House, 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.

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 (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.

As previously announced, Dream of the Red Chamber will feature an English-language libretto by the composer and Tony Award–winning Chinese-American playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly and Chinglish). 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.

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

For the complete press release, please view the attached PDF.