Minnesota Opera commissions “The Song Poet,” youth opera by Nkeiru Okoye based on Hmong story

Posted on: April 4, 2019

“Author Kao Kalia Yang’s father has been a farmer, a refugee, a machinist. But in a book about his life, Yang elevated his true vocation—poet,” writes Jenna Ross in Tuesday’s (4/2) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). “Soon, his story will be an opera. The Minnesota Opera announced Monday that it’s creating a youth opera based on ‘The Song Poet,’ Yang’s acclaimed 2017 memoir about her father, Bee Yang, who composed and sang songs about life and politics, love and family. It’s the first time a Hmong story will be translated to the operatic stage, Yang said…. ‘The Song Poet’ becomes the third opera commissioned for [the Minnesota Opera’s youth vocal training program] Project Opera, which will premiere it … in 2021…. New York City composer Nkeiru Okoye will write the score. Okoye and Minnesota playwright and performer Katie Ka Vang will pen the libretto…. To ensure that the cast is diverse, the opera company will reach into the Hmong-American community…. When Yang was young, she took the occasional field trip to the Ordway or the Guthrie [theaters]…. ‘I couldn’t have imagined, as a child, walking into a place and seeing something from the Hmong story represented.’ ”

Posted April 4, 2019