Ms. Fleming calls Shenyang one of the most promising singers she’s heard in years. The soprano, who rarely mentors young singers, thought he could benefit from the Met. “He needed polishing but, of course, we all need to learn,” Ms. Fleming says.
Increasingly, China is promoting Western opera. Chinese conservatories train singers in the classic Italian and German repertoire. Western opera was harshly suppressed during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, and singers who train in Chinese opera, a style that can sound high and piercing to Western audiences, tend to have voices that aren’t well-suited for Western arias. Today, many singers, like Changyong Liao, one of China’s most popular opera singers, perform mainly in China.
With Shenyang, “if I were going to bet on someone with star potential, I would say he has that,” says Peter Gelb, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera. “Of course, there are many hurdles for any young artist.”
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