Perhaps it’s time to decentralize the star system that currently fuels opera. There are plenty of composers, performers and directors who manage to reflect on the canon even as they create works that speak to audiences today.
Many work on the fringes, but some are coming to main stages. Next year, the Santa Fe Opera will give the premiere of Huang Ruo’s “M. Butterfly,” an adaptation of David Henry Hwang’s play of the same name, which rethinks Puccini’s opera via the lens of a real-life encounter between a French diplomat and a Chinese spy. The Tuscan-born Puccini’s themes of exoticism and orientalization will be repurposed by a composer born in the Chinese province of Hainan.