ST. LOUIS, Dec. 20, 2017 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis will host renowned composer Huang Ruo and Tony Award-winning librettist David Henry Hwang from January 25 through 29 for a series of public events to discuss the creation of the world premiere of their two-act opera, An American Soldier. The latest commission in OTSL’s New Works, Bold Voices series, An American Soldier tells the true story of Private Danny Chen, a first generation Chinese-American who was moved to join the US Army after growing up Chinatown, New York in the shadow of the September 11 terrorist attack. When he enlists in 2011, Danny is welcomed by his band of brothers in boot camp. But after his deployment to Afghanistan, his own base becomes enemy territory as military hazing turns deadly. OTSL will host four events featuring the creative team behind this opera, exploring both the true story of Danny Chen and the creative process that went into creating this world premiere.
The events are presented with the support of a wide range of community partners, including St. Louis Public Radio, the OCA St. Louis, St. Louis University Library Associates, and Crispy Edge Restaurant. Further events with the opera’s creators will be scheduled for May 2018 in collaboration with the Missouri History Museum. Details of the four January events are as follows:
THE DRAMATIC VISION OF DAVID HENRY HWANG
Thursday, January 25, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
St. Louis University
DuBourg Hall, 4th floor
221 N. Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63103
Tony Award-Winning playwright and librettist David Henry Hwang, best known for his play M. Butterfly, engages in a lively conversation with OTSL General Director Timothy O’Leary about his career and how he crafted Danny Chen’s story into an opera libretto. Recorded musical excerpts from An American Soldier will be heard as part of the program, with an audience Q&A to follow. This event is free and open to the public.
YOUNG PROFESSIONALS COCKTAIL RECEPTION
Friday, January 26, 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Crispy Edge Restaurant
4168 Juniata St, St. Louis, MO 63116
OTSL’s Young Friends host a cocktail reception evening with composer Huang Ruo and librettist David Henry Hwang at Crispy Edge, St. Louis’s new globally-inspired potsticker restaurant in Tower Grove. Tickets are $10 and include up to two drinks per person and a chance to be among the first to taste highlights from Crispy Edge’s delicious menu.
THE DANNY CHEN STORY
Saturday, January 27, 1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.
St. Louis Public Radio Community Room
3651 Olive St, St. Louis, MO 63108
The experiences of Private Danny Chen, Lance Corporal Harry Lew, and other Asian-American service men and women have had a profound impact on the military’s policies surrounding hazing and inclusion. This panel discussion will feature both composer Huang Ruo and librettist David Henry Hwang in conversation with local Asian-American veterans and local military leadership. OTSL General Director Timothy O’Leary moderates. This event is free and open to the public.
THE MUSIC OF HUANG RUO
Monday, January 29, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church
9450 Clayton Rd, St. Louis, MO 63124
Join composer Huang Ruo for an inside look into the creation of the score to An American Soldier – from its initial performance as a one-act opera in Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative to its final evolution as a full-length two-act opera at OTSL. Lauded by The New York Times as “dramatically assured and lyrical,” Ruo will share excerpts of the score and discuss the creative process behind his distinctive and unique compositions. This event is free and open to the public.
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’s 2018 Festival Season opens on May 19, 2018, and will feature Verdi’s La traviata directed by renowned soprano Patricia Racette, Marc Blitzstein’s Regina starring Susan Graham, James Morris, Susanna Phillips, and Ron Raines, the world premiere of the two-act performing version of An American Soldier by Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang, Gluck’s Orfeo and Euridice, and the annual young artist showcase concert Center Stage conducted by Stephen Lord. Subscriptions and single tickets can be purchased online, in person at the Loretto-Hilton Center Box Office, or by calling (314) 961-0644.
About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American opera companies, known for a spring festival of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the renowned St. Louis Symphony. As of its 2017 Festival Season, Opera Theatre has presented 26 world premieres and 27 American premieres — which may be the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company. Described by the Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis annually welcomes visitors from nearly every state and close to a dozen foreign countries. Although the size of the theater typically limits box office income to less than a quarter of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.
Opera Theatre also has a long tradition of discovering and promoting the careers of the finest operatic artists of the current generation. Among the artists who had important early opportunities at Opera Theatre are Erie Mills, Jerry Hadley, Christine Brewer, Thomas Hampson, Sylvia McNair, Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, Dwayne Croft, Patricia Racette, Matthew Polenzani, Nathan Gunn, Lawrence Brownlee, Kelly Kaduce, and Jennifer Johnson Cano. Opera Theatre has always been known for distinguished leadership: founding general director Richard Gaddes was succeeded in 1985 by general director Charles MacKay, with famed British stage director Colin Graham as artistic director and Stephen Lord (1992 – present) as music director. Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008 with acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding the late Colin Graham.
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is funded in part by the Regional Arts Commission, Arts and Education Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Missouri Arts Council.
Generous leadership support for the services of the St. Louis Symphony is provided by the Taylor family and the late Jack C. Taylor.