The Silver River
Composer: Bright Sheng
Composer Bio: Bright Sheng is a composer, conductor, and pianist. Sheng’s music is noted for its lyrical and limpid melodies, a Shostakovich sense of breath in music phrases, a Bartokian sense of rhythmic propulsion, and dramatic and theatrical gestures. Many of Sheng’s works has strong Chinese and Asian influences, a result of his diligent study of Asian musical cultures for over three decades. He was proclaimed by the MacArthur Foundation in 2001 as “an innovative composer who merges diverse musical customs in works that transcend conventional aesthetic boundaries.” The Foundation predicts that “Bright Sheng will continue to be an important leader in exploring and bridging musical traditions.” In April of 1999, Mr. Sheng received a special commission from the White House to create a new work for a state dinner, hosted by the president, honoring the Chinese Premiere Zhou Rongji. In October 2001, Bright Sheng was named a MacArthur Fellow with a cash prize of $500,000. In addition to many national and international awards, Mr. Sheng has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Naumberg Foundation, Copland Foundation, Michigan Arts Award and a Rackham fellowship and a fellowship from the Institute for the Humanities from the University of Michigan. Mr. Sheng's music is exclusively published by G. Schirmer, Inc. and records on the Sony Classical, Naxos, Telarc, Delos, Koch International, New World, and Grammofon AB BI labels. Among his important teachers were Leonard Bernstein, George Perle, Hugo Weisgall, Chou Wen-Chung, and Jack Beeson.
Librettist: David Henry Hwang
Librettist Bio: Few writers have turned issues around ethnicity and identity into a widely acclaimed and award-winning career like David Henry Hwang. This Chinese American playwright, described by the New York Times as "a true original" and by TIME magazine as "the first important dramatist of American public life since Arthur Miller," is best known as the author of "M. Butterfly." That 1988 work, which won a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, John Gassner Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award, was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. To date, "M. Butterfly" has been staged in over four dozen countries and was the basis for a major motion picture. His play, "Golden Child," premiered Off-Broadway at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, received an Obie Award, and subsequently played on Broadway, where it received three Tony nominations. "Yellow Face," which premiered at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum and New York's Public Theater, also won an Obie Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. "Chinglish" premiered at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, where it won a 2011 Jefferson Award for Best New Work, before moving to Broadway and being named Best New American Play of 2011 by TIME Magazine. Other plays from his 30 year career include FOB (Obie Award), The Dance & the Railroad (Drama Desk Nomination, CINE Golden Eagle Award), and Family Devotions (Drama Desk Nomination). According to Opera News, Hwang is America’s most-produced living opera librettist. He has written four works with composer Philip Glass, including "1000 Airplanes on the Roof," while his other libretti have been performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Lincoln Center, Spoleto Festival USA and elsewhere. The Deutsche Grammofone recording of his libretto for "Ainadamar" won two Grammy Awards after having spent time at the top of Billboard magazine’s classical music charts.
Original Cast: Michael Chioldi (Baritone)
Jamie Guan (Chinese-style actor)
Wu Man (pipa)
Work Web Site:
Premiere Date: July 27, 1997
Producing Company: Santa Fe Opera
Description: According to ancient Chinese legend, Night and Day were created through the ill-fated love between a heavenly being and a mortal. The legend of the Silver River comes alive in a bewitching production populated by Jade Emperors, Goddess Weavers and other celestial beings. Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang, librettist of the Tony Award-winning M. Butterfly, integrate elements from both Western and Chinese opera in a touching and timeless fable.
Character List (Major): African-American Actress (Western style)
Asian Male Singer (Chinese Opera style)
Baritone (Western Opera/Music Theater style)
Reviews: A Meeting Of Worlds Earthly And Divine - The New York Times 7/18/2002
Length: 01:15
Total Acts: 1
Orchestration: fl(pic,afl), cl(bcl,perc), pipa, perc, vn(perc), vc(perc)
Note: the flutist appears onstage as a male cowherd, the pipa player appears onstage as a goddess-weaver
Ballet/Dance: Asian Female Dancer
2 Dancers
Contact: G. Schirmer, Inc.
Address: 257 Park Avenue South, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10010
E-mail Address:
Phone: 212-254-2100
Composer Web Site:
Librettist Web Site:
Publisher Web Site:
To have your company’s photos included in the header rotation, send photos that are at least 1200px wide and 550px tall to Please note that submission of photos does not guarantee inclusion.
All OPERA America facilities are handicapped accessible. The National Opera Center features ground-level entry with elevators to the venue. All spaces are wheelchair accessible, and modular seating can be arranged to accommodate wheelchair users for all programs and performances. Handicapped accessible restrooms are available on all floors.
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212.796.8620 • Fax: 212.796.8621

Privacy PolicyReturns Policy
2015 Form 990FY16 Audited Financial Statement
© Copyright 1995-2017 OPERA America Inc.

Technical issue with the website? Let us know.