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Video: Watch Huang Ruo Discuss His Critically Acclaimed Opera 'Dr. Sun Yat-sen'




"A humanizing tribute"… "dramatically assured"… "a distinctive style."

To say the least, the New York Times review of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, which traces China's ambitious attempts to mold a solid national identity in the early 20th century, was brimming with accolades. The opera — composed by Chinese-born American Huang Ruo — premiered at the Santa Fe Opera on Saturday, marking the show's first performance in the United States.

"Mr. Huang's music blends Western classical idioms with Chinese traditions into a distinctive style that is characterized by a strong dramatic bent and a great sense of pacing," wrote Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim for the Times. "Moments of driving rhythm — often hammered out on Chinese percussion instruments — alternate with passages of intense lyricism in which Mr. Huang's distinct way of writing for voices comes to the fore."

Asia Society New York has twice hosted Huang in recent years, presenting audiences with glimpses of Dr. Sun Yat-sen as a work-in-progress. In 2012, Huang and his cast performed excerpts from his opera, accompanied by a historical discussion with Orville Schell, Director of Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations. This past December, Huang returned with a host of his collaborators on the Santa Fe production for a panel discussion in which he shed light on his sources of inspiration for Dr. Sat Yat-sen, noting that he wanted to create an opera with a "Cantonese flavor."

Video: Highlights from the 2013 panel discussion (5 min., 23 sec.)