A Night at the Opera with “I Sing Beijing”

Last night I attended a gala concert performance by “I Sing Beijing,” an amazing group of young American opera singers – singing entirely in Mandarin!

The “I Sing Beijing “ project brings a troupe of talented young artists to China for a month-long crash course in Mandarin – not just speaking the language, but performing in it.  Their goal is to introduce Mandarin as a lyric language, fused with the tradition of Western-style opera, in order to create a new genre of modern Chinese opera.

I Sing Beijing is the first project of the Hanyu Academy of Vocal Arts, which was founded with a mission to cultivate the next generation of singers with the versatile skills necessary for an increasingly globalized classical music market.

For the 15 American singers participating in the program, who were selected after two rounds of competitive auditions, this was an experience of a lifetime – none of them had visited China before.  This evening’s performance was the culmination of a month’s long work of intense Mandarin and performance training.

The gala was held at Beijing’s iconic National Centre for the Performing Arts (also known as “The Egg” for its striking and futuristic architectural design).

The seats were packed with an audience of mostly curious Chinese.  They thoroughly enjoyed the performances – clapping along to upbeat melodies, and giving several standing ovations.  They especially enjoyed a few traditional Chinese folk songs that the group performed. There were even a few teary eyes in the house during the finale, which was a heartfelt rendition of one of China’s most famous songs, “I Love You, China.”

After the performance, I met the artists at their celebratory after-party.  They shared with me some of their most memorable moments of the past 4 weeks in Beijing.  Stayed tuned for my interviews with them!

Meanwhile, you can learn more about I Sing Beijing here!

Photo courtesy of I Sing Beijing.