Michael Ching, composer
Michigan Opera Theatre is thrilled to return to live opera, with its performance of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana at Meadow Brook Amphitheatre on June 12th. We thought we’d look back 15 months to our last staged in-door opera in March of 2020, a double-bill of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Buoso’s Ghost by American composer Michael Ching.
Michael Ching is a composer, conductor and arts administrator who hails from Honolulu, Hawaii. He has been praised as an important and prolific composer of contemporary opera, and his one act Buoso’s Ghost, was warmly received by critics and MOT audiences alike, just days before the shutdown due to COVID-19 on March 12th 2020.
We caught-up with the composer last week by phone, and here is a part of that conversation.
QUESTION #1 - Tell us about your year since we last saw you?
MICHAEL CHING: “BUOSO’S GHOST at Michigan Opera Theatre, in early March 2020, was my last live performance for thirteen months. Composing being a rather solitary activity anyway, I was lucky enough to have had a productive year. Some things were cancelled, but more often than not, the universities and companies I was working with pivoted and I have a lot of lovely online performances to show for it.”
QUESTION #2 - Did the Opera Field learn anything this past year?
MICHAEL CHING: “The opera field learned this year that it needs new operas. The Rigoletto’s, Don Giovanni’s, and Barber’s, as glorious as they are, can’t sum up the loneliness and loss of the COVID-19 pandemic. And the grim realization that we don’t treat each other equally in this country.”
QUESTION #3 - Any other lessons?
MICHAEL CHING: “Turns out there is a market for relevant and entertaining operas that don’t last for three hours, so short turns out to be useful too. Also, I suspect this halt and jolt to the stolid rhythm of the performing arts will result in nimble, short, and relevant new work becoming a part of every season. I hope that producers everywhere will encourage the creation of new works that speak to their local audiences, realizing that the audience in Detroit isn’t the same one as in midtown Manhattan, San Antonio, Honolulu, or Savannah. I’ve come into the summer of 2021 optimistic about the future of opera, and eager to do my part.”
Michael Ching, composer-May, 20th 2021
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