Our next Adler Profile features a native of Kiamusze, China: tenor Chuanyue Wang.
A first-year Adler Fellow and graduate of the 2012 Merola Opera Program, Chuanyue is an operatic star in his native China having won numerous talent competition awards including first prize in the Chinese Culture Ministry’s WenHua Competition, the Mandova Competition, the China International Vocal Competition, and the Chinese National Young TV Singers Competition. Prior to his Adler Fellowship, Chuanyue graduated from China’s Central Music Conservatory. This season, Chuanyue made his debut on the War Memorial Opera House Stage as Wagner & Nereo in Boito's Mefistofele
and is also covering the role of Fenton in Falstaff
How did you begin your musical training and what made you choose to become an opera singer?
My family does not have much of a background in classical music. I started studying piano when I was in middle school but I always secretly dreamt that I would become a singer one day. My first acting experience was in a school drama based on The White Haired Girl, a famous modern Chinese opera. Although my role did not involve any singing, a school teacher was impressed with my vocal quality and encouraged me to begin formal training in singing. In tenth grade I sang in a state voice competition and was lucky enough to win third place. After that, I decided to focus my training on opera and applied to the Central Conservatory to further my studies.
You recently won the prestigious CCTV Young Singer Grand Prix of China this past summer. As an already accomplished singer in China, what attracted you to the training programs at San Francisco Opera and what do you hope to gain from your Adler Fellowship experience?
Winning the CCTV Competition helped me to establish my reputation in China and has led to many performance opportunities in the future, but as a young singer, my priority is to pursue as much artistic growth as I can. I am grateful that I am fortunate to work with so many wonderful mentors through the Adler Fellowship Program. These mentors and teachers help me to recognize my weaknesses and show me that I still have room for improvement. My major goals for my time as an Adler is to learn as much as I can and I am most looking forward to the incredible performing experiences I will have here.
(Above: Chuanyue Wang as Wagner in Boito's Mefistofele. Photo by Cory Weaver.)
What are some of your favorite moments from the Merola/Adler experience thus far?
My favorite experiences so far have been meeting all the amazing teachers in the Opera Center. Although I have only been in residence for a few months, the Adler program has become a place that I can call home. All the mentors I meet through the program have been so helpful and patient and really try to bring the best out of me. I want to especially thank Sheri Greenawald, the Director of the Opera Center and Mark Morash, the Director of Musical Studies, along with Cesar Ulloa, the Master Voice Teacher. Their advice and encouragement has not only helped me grow professionally but personally as well.
In China, you have appeared not only in Western operas but also modern Chinese operas including playing the role of General Han in Chinese Orphan, which is a famous story of classical Chinese literature told through the Western operatic form. What do you think are the most notable differences between Western opera and modern Chinese opera?
Modern Chinese opera has undergone a period of rapid development in recent years. Many of the most renowned composers and singers in China have been enthusiastic about writing and performing works in this new style because it combines elements from both Western classical music and Chinese literature and art. Some of the most famous examples of modern Chinese opera include Xi Shi, Chinese Orphan, and Mulan. I enjoy performing both Western opera and modern Chinese opera, as well as singing in other foreign languages.
What has been the greatest challenge for you as a performer thus far?
The greatest challenge for me has been self-doubt. Although I have been lucky enough to make it to this point in my career, I have sometimes doubted how much further I can go. I deal with this self-doubt by staying close to my family, friends, and mentors. Whenever I have concerns, I share my thoughts with them and listen to their opinions. Exchanging ideas with my network of friends & family enables me to understand my problems from other people’s perspectives and see how I can improve.
How do you prepare for performances?
I like to sing a few groups of scales to warm up my voice and body. It is a simple but very useful way to prepare myself for performances.
(Above: Chuanyue Wang performs a selection at the Schwabacher Concert for the Merola Opera Program. Photo by Kristen Loken.)
Your wife is also an opera singer who graduated from the Central Conservatory and you often performed with her while in college -- is there a piece you would like to perform with her someday in the future?
I hope that someday we can perform La Traviata together because we met when we sang the duet “Parigi, o cara” in college. I also want to perform La bohème with her because it is her favorite opera.
If you weren’t an opera singer, what would you choose as your career and why?
I am not sure but perhaps I would want to be a photographer. My ten-month old son is still in China and I am sad that I will miss the most exciting part of his development. I want to take lots of pictures with my family the next time I’m with them and I also want to use my camera to capture all the memorable moments in my life.
What are some of your favorite…
Spots in San Francisco?
Golden Gate Park and Fisherman’s Wharf. I really enjoy the tranquil environment.
Spicy Sichuan dishes.