Jennifer Wen Ma, director and visual designer
Jennifer Wen Ma is a visual artist, whose interdisciplinary practice bridges varied media such as installation, drawing, video, public art, design, performance, and theatre; often bringing together unlikely elements in a single piece, creating sensitive, poetic and poignant works.
She was one of the seven members on the core creative team for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the chief designer for visual and special effects. She received an Emmy for the U.S. broadcast of the ceremony. She works and lives between New York and Beijing. Recent exhibitions include: Vancouver Art Gallery, 2014; Cambio Cultural, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 2013; Performa 13, New York, 2013; The Republic of China Centennial Grand Countdown, Taipei, 2010, Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, 2009, Solomon R. Guggenheim,Museum, New York, 2008, The National Art Museum of China, Beijing, 2008, among others.
Huang Ruo, composer
Chinese-American composer Huang Ruo has been cited by The New Yorker as "one of the world's leading young composers." His inventive musical voice draws equal inspiration from Chinese ancient and folk music, Western avant-garde, rock, and jazz to create a compositional technique he calls "Dimensionalism." Huang Ruo's writings span orchestra, chamber music, opera, theater, modern dance, sound installation, folk rock, and film. Ensembles that have performed his music include the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, National Polish Radio Orchestra, Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Asko/Schoenberg Ensemble, Remix Ensemble, and Quatuor Diotima. Huang Ruo's opera Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, was given its American premiere by the Santa Fe Opera in 2014, and will have its Canadian premiere by the Vancouver Opera in 2018. He was recently named the composer-in-residence for the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Huang Ruo is currently a composition faculty member at the Mannes College of Music, and he is the Artistic Director and conductor of Ensemble FIRE (Future In REverse).
Qian Yi, lead role, Kunqu performer
From the age of ten, Qian Yi studied classical Chinese opera (Kunqu) at the Shanghai Opera School. As a member of the Shanghai Opera Company, she became known for her leading roles in The Legend of the White Snake, The Water Margin and other standards of the classical Chinese opera repertoire. The Chinese Ministry of Culture recognized her as one of the country's finest young Kunqu actors.
In 1998, Qian Yi was cast in the lead role of Lincoln Center Festival's epic 19-hour production of The Peony Pavilion. The production toured internationally, playing at major international festivals in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia. Her performance has been widely acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, garnering such superlatives as "radiant" (New York Times), "incomparable" (Wall Street Journal) and "spellbinding" (New York Magazine).
Since coming to the U.S., she has starred in numerous re-workings of Chinese opera for a western theater context, including Ghost Lovers (Spoleto USA), The Orphan of Zhao (Lincoln Center) and Snow in June (American Repertory Theater). In addition, she has been exploring western theater, working with directors such as Meredith Monk and Karin Coonrad. In 2008, she will have her western opera premiere, singing a leading role in the San Francisco Opera's new production of Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter
In film, Qian Yi starred in Alexander Ku's Triple 8 Palace, an independent short film which received Official Selection at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Qian Yi also appeared in Dark Matter, an independent feature starring Meryl Streep and Liu Ye. In her latest role, Qian Yi stars in The Years Flow Like Water, another independent short currently in post-production.
Qian Yi has written two plays, A Robe for the Moon which was performed at the Kennedy Center Page to Stage New Play Festival and Fox Spirit, which is currently in workshop development.
Qian Yi continues to perform Chinese opera. Most recently, she starred in the Contemporary Legend Theatre's The Butterfly Dream, which premiered at Taiwan's National Theater as part of its 20th anniversary celebration. She also starred in The Eternal Palace, which was performed in venues across the United States including the Smithsonian Freer+Sackler Galleries. In addition to these performances, she has brought her knowledge of Chinese traditional theater to American audiences in an academic context. She taught Chinese Opera movement at Barnard College, Columbia University and has given numerous lectures and demonstrations at universities and museums around the country.
Yi Li, tenor
John Holiday, countertenor
Ao Li, bass barritone
Joo Won Kang, baritone
Ji Chao, librettist
H.M. Agnes Hsu-Tang, English libretto interpretation and translation
Wen-Pin Chien, conductor
Kara Riopelle, assistant director
Matthew J. Hilyard, stage designer
Lea Xiao, lighting designer
Guillermo Acevedo, interactive video designer
Austin Switser, projection designer
Melissa Kirgan, costume designer
Xing-Zhen Chung Hilyard, costume designer
Sarah Elizabeth Stanley
Special thanks to Carol Bianco for casting of supernumeraries.
Stephen Buck, pianist
3D printed elements for Qian Yi's headdress are digitally modeled by Xilun Wu, and engineered and printed by Guillermo Acevedo.
Luke Simcock, costume alterations