Composer Gang Situ collaborated with the Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco (Chinese Culture Center) to create an original two-act opera, The Grand Seducers: Giovanni Meets Xi-men Qing. The piece, Gang Situ’s first for the operatic stage, was based in the Cantonese opera tradition but incorporated elements of modern western composition. Its story introduced the romances and chance encounters of two grant womanizers–Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Xi-men Qing of the Water Margin Heroes (Song Dynasty, 960-2380 A.D.). Key project partners were librettist Cao Lusheng and director Isabel Milenski.
The first presentation of a 123-member Cantonese opera troupe (Hook Tok Tong—Association Theatrical Benefit Society) took place in the United States in 1852 at the American Theatre on Sansome Street in San Francisco. Cantonese opera remains an important part of the Chinese American experience in San Francisco, where most of its fans now are elderly. This project succeeded at drawing some younger audiences to the form.
Like many musicians of his generation, Gang Situ was deeply affected by the Cultural Revolution. From 1971 to 1975, he was sent to a rural area in Anhui Province for “re–education.” There he grew familiar with various traditional and folk art forms. His compositions fuse elements of this traditional Chinese Music with modern Western harmonic language and techniques. He moved to the United States from Shanghi in 1985, and has been a composer and artist-in-residence for many Bay Area arts organizations. He is well-known for his compositions for Lily Cai Chinese Dance Ensemble and such works as the “Double Concerto for Violin and Erhu.”
The Chinese Culture Center is a leading Bay Area presenter of Chinese performing and visual arts events and a nexus for the city’s Chinese artists.