For Immediate Release


Brooke Newlin

Director of Marketing and PR, Opera Memphis



Nancy Knight

Director, Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art



Ancient Chinese Culture Comes to Life in Downtown Memphis

Opera Memphis and Belz Asian Art Museum partner for visual, theatrical display of Chinese history


            MEMPHIS (October 4, 2007) –When this year’s opera season begins in Memphis, enthusiasts will have the opportunity to explore the artistic history of Chinese culture beyond the theatre seats.  Opera Memphis has partnered with Belz Asian Art Museum to bring the art of ancient Chinese civilization to downtown Memphis.

            The 2007-2008 Opera Memphis season will begin on October 13 and 16 with the production of TURANDOT, the tale of a cold-hearted Chinese Princess who through one man’s persistence melts her heart; and to provide a deeper look into ancient Chinese culture, Belz Asian Art Museum will premiere their new exhibit Cloaked in Symbolisim:  Clothes and Costumes of the Ch’ing Dynasty throughout the month of October.

TURANDOT will begin at 7:30 P.M. on both nights at the Orpheum Theatre. Tickets to the opera range from $15 to $75 and can be purchased by calling 901-257-3100 or visiting    Cloaked in Symbolism is currently on display and will run through November 6. The Belz Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday – Friday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday – Sunday.  Admission prices are as follows:

·         Adults:    $6.00

·         Seniors:   $5.00

·         Students: $4.00

For more information about the opera and display, visit and            

TURANDOT– The Forbidden Chinese Production

TURANDOT is the first of three productions for the new Opera Memphis season.  Forbidden in China until 1998, TURANDOT is the classic tale of the icy, hard-hearted Princess Turandot who seeks to find a royal suitor. Each suitor must answer three riddles correctly to be granted marriage to the princess. Those who answer incorrectly will be beheaded. The production features the aria made famous by the late Luciano Pavarotti “Nessun dorma.”

Roy Cornelius Smith will return in the leading role of Calaf after a stellar performance in Vienna.  Musical America celebrated his talent by stating, “His voice is huge, dusky and Italianate, his phrasing and use of dynamics generous and elegant, his stage presence endearing…Triumphs like this are one in a million.”

Balancing his talent will be Soprano Audrey Stottler singing the title role. Having performed in many prestigious opera houses throughout the country including the Metropolitan Opera and Covent Garden , her interpretation of Turandot is highly sought after in the opera community.

Cloaked in Symbolism:  Clothes and Costumes of the Ch'ing Dynasty

The newest exhibit at the Belz Asian & Judaic Art Museum, Cloaked in Symbolism explores the significant role of garments in imperial Chinese society and features thirty items from the Belz collection, many of which have never been accessible to the general public.

The exhibit is centered on the role of symbolism found on Imperial Court garments, rank badges and costumes produced during the Ch’ing dynasty (1644 – 1912). Elaborately designed robes were worn by the elite. The Emperor, court officials, dignitaries and their family wore robes with symbolism that denoted their status. Whether it is the Emperor’s robe with the twelve symbols of sovereignty, or a court official’s robe with an elaborate badge to clarify their status, these items are exquisitely detailed silk embroidered works of art.

About Opera Memphis

Opera Memphis was chartered in 1956 by a group of Memphians interested in producing regional opera. Charter signatories included noted Memphians Philip Belz and Walter Chandler. Early productions consisted mainly of local singers and local directors. During this initial period the Metropolitan Opera toured regularly through the area and performed in Memphis two to three times per year. As the company grew, the performers and directors became more regional and the sets and costumes more professional. By the mid-1970s, Opera Memphis began bringing in well-known singers like, Leontyne Price, Beverly Sills, Joan Sutherland, Sherrill Milnes, and Birgit Nilsson, to perform in lead roles.

About Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art

Founded in 1998, the Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art is home to a collection that spans the art of many cultures and time periods including: Chinese art primarily from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), contemporary Judaica, a selection of natural history objects and various examples of art and craft from around the world.