The opera will receive its world premiere during Opera Theatre of Saint Louis' 2018 Festival Season, opening June 3, 2018. Details about additional performance dates and casting will be forthcoming.
A 60-minute version of the opera was commissioned by Washington National Opera and premiered there in 2014 as part of WNO’s American Opera Initiative.
An American Soldier, according to press notes, is based on the "story of the tragic death of Chinese-American Army Private Danny Chen, who took his own life while stationed in a guard tower at a base in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Based on the ensuing courts-martial of Chen’s fellow soldiers, [the opera] addresses issues of patriotism, cultural identity, belonging, and otherness."
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis artistic director James Robinson will direct.
"We are thrilled to be working with Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang on this project," said general director O’Leary statement. "As artists, they embody the kind of probing, meaningful work we aim to advance through Opera Theatre’s New Works, Bold Voices series. It’s an honor to be collaborating with them, and with our friends at the Washington National Opera, who commissioned and premiered the first version of An American Soldier. Through the moving story of Private Danny Chen and his family, this is a work that addresses the very question of what it means to be an American." Hwang's many plays include M. Butterfly (which earned him his first Tony nomination and award), Golden Child, Yellow Face, Chinglish and Kung Fu. Named America’s most-produced living opera librettist by Opera News, he has written four works with composer Philip Glass, and collaborated on projects with Osvaldo Golijov, Phil Collins, Elton John and Unsuk Chin. In 2014, he became the director of Columbia University’s School of the Arts’ M.F.A. program in playwriting.