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Pink and Black Butterfly_edited_edited_e

A young opera singer faces a battle for her life…
and finds miracles of medicine, music, and love


On the music of Shinji Eshima

Full of sweeping lyricism and incisive rhythmic energy, Shinji Eshima takes us on soaring musical journeys that leave us feeling emotionally richer at the end. I am thrilled that he is composing an opera on the life of Zheng Cao, one of the dearest, most perceptive artists in our world, whose life was cut tragically short but whose spirit is so immense she will continue to impact this world for all time. Hers is a vitally important story of hope and possibility and Shinji will tell it with incredible humanity.

Matthew Shilvock
General Director, San Francisco Opera  

Excerpts from “Zheng,” a work composer Shinji Eshima and librettist Tony Asaro about the life and work of the late mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao, conveyed much of the ferocity and dogged spirit of its subject. Cao, who died of lung cancer in 2013 at 46, was both a gifted artist and an individual of unstoppable personal power, and those qualities came through in the scenes performed Saturday under the baton of conductor Jonathan Khuner. They included duets with her sister and her doctor/fiance but most tellingly a final stirring paean to the force of her own singing.


Joshua Kosman, music critic

The San Francisco Chronicle

January 20, 2019

Developed in partnership with FOGG Theatre
Photography of Zheng Cao by John F. Martin
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