New faces, new ambitions as opera houses reopen | Entertainment News

New faces, new ambitions as opera houses reopen | Entertainment News

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“Everybody says opera is old-fashioned,” she said in an interview. “I don’t believe that. These masterpieces stay with us after 100 years … If we tell the story really well, then everybody feels like it’s their story too.”

She’s well aware that the symbolism of her appointment may be a factor in drawing new customers from the San Francisco Bay Area, with its large and growing Asian American population.

“Whenever I meet audiences after the performance, women and also Asians tell me I am kind of an inspiration for them,” Kim said, “I’m happy if I can be that kind of figure.”

Expanding the repertory with new opera is high on her agenda, she said, though because of COVID-19 disruptions to scheduling this season offers only one recent work — a revival of “Dream of the Red Chamber” by Chinese-born composer Bright Sheng.

Kim kicked off the season on Aug. 21 with Puccini’s “Tosca,” a warhorse that is a sentimental favorite for the company. It was the opera that opened the War Memorial Opera House in 1932 and the first work performed in 1997 after the house was retrofitted to withstand earthquakes.

“It’s a piece of new beginnings for us,” said Matthew Shilvock, the company’s general director.

Music directors aren’t the only things that are new in San Francisco and Chicago. Both houses have completed installing all new seating throughout their auditoriums, promising greater comfort, wider aisles and better sight lines.

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