This came as a shocking revelation: are American composers being outsourced? As I perused the Metropolitan Operaâ€™s upcoming season, I was excited to find out they are presenting at least one new opera: The First Emperor, by Tan Dun, staged by Chinaâ€™s leading film director Zhang Yimou with libretto by national book award winner Ha Jin. Letâ€™s face it: many of leading opera/musical theater composers are Asian-born males, such as Tan Dun, Bright Sheng and Fred Ho.
For some years now, observing the programming of the Lincoln Center Festival and Brooklyn Academy of music, I noticed that most of the work presented is â€˜outsourcedâ€™ from various parts of the world. Whereas the availability of worldwide culture is a progressive value, the neglect of American culture â€“ the result of 20 years of inadequate support and even censoring national policies – is beginning to take its toll. It is no surprise that the stronger works emerge from civilizations where the arts are still considered valuable.