Emily Conrad: Is the Future of Opera in China?

On Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018, Emily Conrad (2016 Yenching Scholars) will provide a program about the rise of opera in China in the Second Gymnasium at Peking University. The program will begin at 6pm with a short lecture in English introducing the rise of opera in China. At 6:45pm, Emily will perform songs in Chinese from modern Chinese operas, including Lan Hua Hua, The Long March, The Visitors on the Snow Mountain, and The Savage Land. The recital will also feature pianist Yue Peng, Artistic Director for Piano Opera at the National Center for Performing Arts.

  • All are welcome to attend!

  • Entrance is free. 

  • Please scan the QR code to reserve your seat.

Music has always been an integral part of Emily Conrad’s life. She learned how to read music before she could read words. At the age of three, she began to learn classical piano. At the age of eight, she was first introduced to opera and fell in love with the art form. She studied opera for many years under the instruction of New York City Metropolitan Opera star, Victoria Livengood.

However, Emily often lamented the dwindling audiences for opera in the West. Finally, she decided that she would rather become an opera administrator than a singer, to help build new audiences for opera. She subsequently interned in the opera industry in the United States, Germany, and Spain – including at Barcelona’s famed “Teatro Liceu.”


It was during this time that Emily encountered many articles about how the audiences for western opera were exploding in mainland China. With her curiosity piqued, she enrolled in a Chinese 101 language class at her university in South Carolina.

After graduation, Emily’s life path temporarily detoured from both opera and China. She began working for an international textile company, with most of her work focused on Latin America and South Asia. However, after two years, she developed such an interest in international trade that she decided to study international relations at the Yenching Academy of Peking University. Her research focuses on US-China economic relations, in particular US exports bound for China, as well as Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States.

Since coming to China, Emily has enjoyed learning about the emerging opera scene in the country. She believes that it has great potential for growth, as China has over 50 new opera houses in first, second, and third tier cities across the country. She has also interested that not only are Chinese opera companies performing classic western operas, but they are also commissioning and performing brand-new, Chinese language operas in the western style.