New American Opera

An American Soldier by David Hwang

On October 3, 2011, Chinese-American Army Pvt. Danny Chen was found dead in a guard tower at his base in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Based on his story, and drawing from the ensuing courts-martial of Chen's fellow soldiers, An American Soldier explores what happens when the very people who are supposed to protect you in a combat zone become your enemy.

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Icarus at the Edge of Time by David Hwang

Libretto by David Henry Hwang and Brian Greene
Music by Philip Glass
Film by AL + AL

Based on the novella by renowned theoretical physicist Brian Greene, Icarus at the Edge of Time re-imagines the well-known Greek myth as a space age story of a boy who goes against authority by flying too close to a black hole. Icarus at the Edge of Time premiered at Lincoln Center as part of the World Science Festival, in 2010, directed by Jude Kelly. It was presented at the Southbank Centre in London that same year, and has toured internationally.

The Fly by David Hwang

Daniel Okulitch as Seth Brundle in The Fly. Photo by Robert Millard for the Los Angeles Opera, 2008

Daniel Okulitch as Seth Brundle in The Fly. Photo by Robert Millard for the Los Angeles Opera, 2008

Libretto by David Henry Hwang
Music by Howard Shore    

The opera is loosely based on David Cronenberg's 1986 film The Fly, which was based on the short story of the same name by George Langelaan.

The Fly is an exploration of the physical and psychological transformation in which a brilliant scientist begins to mutate into a hybrid of man and fly after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong. The Fly premiered in Paris at Théâtre du Châtelet and in the United States in at the Los Angeles Opera in 2008, in a production directed by David Cronenberg. It was co-commissioned by both companies.

Alice in Wonderland by David Hwang

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Libretto by David Henry Hwang and Unsuk Chin
Music by Unsuk Chin

Based on Lewis Carroll's novel, Alice in Wonderland premiered at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich in 2007, in a production directed by Achim Freyer. In a survey of the German music magazine Opernwelt’s opera critics, the opera was hailed as the "World Première of the Year”.

Ainadamar by David Hwang

 © Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera, 2005.

 © Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera, 2005.

Libretto by David Henry Hwang            
Music by Osvaldo Golijov

Ainadamar tells the story of playwright Federico García Lorca and his producer and muse, Catalan actress Margarita Xirgu, including Lorca’s murder by the Falange. The male Lorca is played by a woman as a “trousers role,” adding another dimension to the exploration of sexuality and gender.

Ainadamar premiered at Tanglewood Music Center in 2003, directed by Chay Yew. A revised version was later presented at the Santa Fe Opera in 2005, directed by Peter Sellars, and has been performed extensively throughout the world. Its recording on Deutsche Grammophone won two 2006 Grammy Awards, for Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Contemporary Composition.

Photos from the Santa Fe Opera production, 2005.

Production reel from Opera Parallèle production, 2013

The Sound of a Voice by David Hwang

The Sound of a Voice part 1: Herbert Perry and Suzan Hanson. Photo by Richard Feldman for the American Repertory Theatre, 2003

The Sound of a Voice part 1: Herbert Perry and Suzan Hanson. Photo by Richard Feldman for the American Repertory Theatre, 2003

Libretto by David Henry Hwang
Music by Philip Glass

Based on Hwang’s play of the same name, The Sound of a Voice explores intimacy between people who have lived in seclusion. In the first part, an aging Japanese warrior arrives at the home of a mysterious woman who lives like a hermit deep in the woods. Has he come as her suitor, or her assassin? In the second part, an elderly Japanese writer visits a mysterious brothel, which caters to men near the end of their lives by providing them with a means to relive their youth.

The Sound of a Voice premiered in 2003 at Boston’s American Repertory Theatre, directed by Robert Woodruff, produced in association with the Court Theatre in Chicago.

The Silver River by David Hwang

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Libretto by David Henry Hwang
Music by Bright Sheng

Based on an 4,000-year-old Chinese folktale about the creation of night and day, The Silver River tells a story of a forbidden love between a Goddess Weaver and a mortal man.

The Silver River was commissioned by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, where it premiered in 1997, directed by Lisa Peterson. An expanded version opened at the Spoleto Festival in 2002, directed by Ong Keng Sen, in a coproduction with the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City.

The Voyage by David Hwang

The Voyage  at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Photo by Winnie Klotz.

The Voyage at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Photo by Winnie Klotz.

Libretto by David Henry Hwang
Music by Philip Glass

Alternating between the exploration of space, and Columbus’ exploration of the seas, A Voyage is a general study of exploration - of the oceans, of space and time and of the mind.

The Voyage was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and premiered there in 1992, directed by David Poutney.

1000 Airplanes on the Roof by David Hwang

Text by David Henry Hwang
Created with Philip Glass & Jerome Sirlin

1000 Airplanes on the Roof is the story of “M.,” a New Yorker who is abducted by aliens, probed and questioned, then returned to Earth and told to forget the event. The ambiguity of M.’s experience – was it real or hallucinated? – is never fully resolved; it is a parable on contemporary’s man’s search for identity in a bewildering world. 

Originally presented in the Vienna Airport, Hanger #3 in 1988, directed by Philip Glass. Subsequent national and international tours, including an engagement at New York City’s Beacon Theatre, recreated the original production, including Jerome Sirlin’s holographic “visual libretto” projections.