Paradise Interrupted

The captivating new installation opera by acclaimed composer Huang Ruo will receive its New York premiere at Lincoln Center Festival before moving on to its Asian premiere in Singapore.




New York Times
“A Powerful Opera of Eastern and Western Allure… The engrossing chamber opera Paradise Interrupted could easily have ended up a clichéd, cross-cultural mess. Opera has long been an art form that draws together music, poetry, theater, dance and other genres. But few works mingle different elements so ambitiously as Paradise Interrupted. That this 80-minute opera proved so alluring and powerful is due largely to the inventive and personal music of its composer, Huang Ruo.”

Wall Street Journal
“A mesmerizing new work that is part opera, part dynamic art installation.”

Architectural Digest
“A cutting-edge opera for the next generation.”

This sensuous, fantastical score interweaves traditional Chinese and contemporary Western styles within a haunting installation by visual artist Jennifer Wen Ma, known for her Emmy Award–winning work on the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Following the successful world premiere at the Spoleto Festival 2015 and currently on display at Qatar Museums Gallery Al Riwaq, Paradise Interrupted receives its New York premiere at Lincoln Center Festival on July 13, 2016. After that, the installation operamoves on to the Singapore International Festival of Arts for the Asian premiere on August 31, 2016.

Huang Ruo poetically reimagines and blends the myths of the Garden of Eden and Peony Pavilion with a composition that fuses the melismatic vocal style of kunqu with Western tonality.

Paradise Interrupted opens with a woman alone onstage, dreaming of an erotic encounter with her ideal lover – a dream that triggers a psychological journey through a strange and surreal garden made from dynamic paper sculptures.

Inspired by origami and calligraphy, interactive media enables this vast garden and a host of digital characters to interact with the woman and respond to her voice creating the stark effect of ephemeral beauty. Visual artist Jennifer Wen Ma directs and designs this exquisite opera. The quest-seeking soprano is Qian Yi, who has been lauded by The New York Times as “China’s reigning opera princess.” Huang Ruo has written a composition that is at once a continuation of tradition and entirely new.

Excerpts from Paradise Interrupted were first presented at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in March, 2015. The world premiere performance took place at Spoleto Festival USA on May 22, 2015.

Paradise Interrupted is co-commissioned and co-produced by Spoleto Festival USA, Lincoln Center Festival, and National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts.




July 13–16
Lincoln Center Festival
New York, NY

August 31 – September 3
Singapore International Festival of Arts

Fall 2017
National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts
Kaohsiung (Taiwan)

14 March 2016 – 16 July 2016
The Furthest Distance in a Paradise Interrupted
Music by Huang Ruo | Jennifer Wen Ma, installation artist
QM Gallery ALRIWAQ at Quatar Museums
Doha, Quatar

Composer-in-Residence at Concertgebouw

The Concertgebouw, founded in 1888, selected Huang Ruo to be the first composer-in-residence in its history. The residency that covers the 2015-16 season is launched on December 12, 2015, with the world premiere of Unscrolled, a concerto for piano and orchestra. The Concertgebouw will feature one more world premiere and several other compositions by Huang Ruo. The Chinese-born American composer now lives in Amsterdam and also shares his experiences on Tumblr.


December 12, 2015
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
Emanuele Arciuli, piano
Emilio Pomàrico, conductor
Het Residentie Orkest

December 16, 2015
Yueh Fei
Chamber Concertono. 1 for 8 musicians
Leaving Sao: for Voice, Percussion, and String Quartet
Score Collective

October 5, 2016
String quartet no. 2
The Flag Project
Carducci String Quartet

November 2016
The Sonic Great Wall
Asko | Schönberg Ensemble

March 2, 2017
New work for ensemble
Asko | Schönberg Ensemble

Ricordi signed Huang Ruo

Posted by Ricordi 16 June 2015:

We are pleased to announce that as of July 1 Ricordi, a member of the Universal Music Publishing group, has signed Chinese-American composer Huang Ruo. We will represent his entire existing catalog as well as all future works worldwide.

Huang Ruo, born in 1976, has been lauded by The New Yorker as “one of the world’s leading young composers”. He resides in New York and is currently composer-in-residence at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan. His oeuvre includes five stage works, including the opera Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, dozens of orchestra and ensemble pieces as well as multi-media installations.

Huang Ruo’s “distinctive style” (New York Times) draws equal inspiration from Chinese ancient and folk music, Western avant-garde, experimental, noise, natural and processed sound, rock, and jazz to create a seamless, organic integration.

Find out more in this interview.




Please introduce yourself: where were you born, where did you grow up, where did you live and where is your home right now?
I was born in the tropical Hainan Island in China, and grew up in Hainan, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. I came to the United States when I was 18. At first, I was studying English in Los Angeles: a true wild-wild west to me then! I went on to study at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio for my BM degree in composition, then received MM and Ph.D. degrees in composition from The Juilliard School in New York City. I still call New York home and have lived there since 2000.

What role does classical and contemporary music play in China?
Classical music started coming back to China after the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976. It is a blooming scene now. It I still remember growing up in the ‘80s and early ‘90s in China, when Chinese people started wearing more diverse clothing while riding on bicycles, and listening to pop and classical music from the West. Some young parents would buy a piano to put at home even before their child was born. Contemporary music, however, is still taking baby steps in China now. Slowly, people are more aware of the importance of new music, individuality, and an original voice being heard.

What does Ricordi mean to you?
Ricordi is one of the top international publishers for classical music in the world. I first encountered Ricordi’s publications when I was studying at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Since then, I have always had fond admiration and respect for what Ricordi presents. Ricordi publishes some of the world’s most prominent composers from the past and today. It is truly my great honor to join the stellar list of composers of Ricordi and to have my entire catalogue represented and published by Ricordi.

Please tell us more about your opera Dr. Sun Yat-sen.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen is the first of my four operas written thus far. Like one’s first child, it holds a special place in my heart. It is a 21st-Century opera that integrates both Eastern and Western operatic style and traditions. Written for Western operatic voices and sung in Mandarin Chinese with some parts in Cantonese, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen is scored for chamber orchestra with the addition of three traditional Chinese instruments.

Its plot is about the personal life and struggle of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, who is the founding father of modern China and who helped overthrown the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. After its world premiere with Opera Hong Kong in 2011, the Santa Fe Opera gave the American premiere in 2014 and the Vancouver Opera will next give the Canadian premiere in 2017.

You are currently composer-in-residence at the Concertgebouw. Please tell us more about this!
Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam has recently invited me to be their composer-in-residence for its 2015-2016 season. I will be living in and experiencing the amazing city of Amsterdam for a while. Among my various activities during my residency, I will be creating a new work to be premiered at the Concertgebouw for its 2016-2017 season.

What projects are you working on right now?
I just finished my new installation opera Paradise Interrupted, which received its world premiere at the Spoleto Festival USA, and a new symphony Becoming Another written for the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, of which I am also the composer-in-residence. My next project is a piano concerto titled Unscrolled, which has been commissioned by the NTR ZaterdagMatinee and will be premiered by Het Residentie Orkest /The Hague Philharmonic at the Concertgebouw on December 12, 2015, with conductor Emilio Pomàrico and pianist Emanuele Arciuli.

What project do you dream of?
I first saw the award winning documentary film The Story of the Weeping Camel 10 years ago, and was deeply touched and connected to it. The film is about a mother camel disowning her newborn calf because it is an albino camel and caused her a lot of pain during its difficult delivery. The baby camel cries day and night, and starts feeling fearful of the mother as she kicks and refuses to feed the baby.

While the baby calf is starving and dying, a Mongolian horse-head fiddle player performs spiritual music that deeply touches the mother camel, to the point of tears. It was the simple yet powerful sound of the horse-head fiddle that magically changes the mother camel’s heart as she starts accepting and feeding her own baby calf. After seeing the film multiple times, I envision adapting the true story into an otherworldly and innovational opera-theatre. The Story of the Weeping Camel is my special personal project that I hope one day can find a home at a suitable festival, venue, or opera house that can produce and breathe life into it.