DU Alumni / Magazine Feature / People

DU alum opera star to shine on PBS

Rocky Mountain PBS will broadcast world-renowned opera singer Hao Jiang Tian’s (MA ’87) one-man show, From Mao to the Met, at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 31.

The show is based on Tian’s autobiography, Along the Roaring River: My Wild Ride from Mao to the Met (Wiley, 2008), which describes the singer’s journey from a young factory worker during the Cultural Revolution in Beijing, China, to performing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In the show, Tian tells his story through his own words and singing.

“To be honest, it was a pretty tough show for myself,” Tian says. “I talk about the first day I came to this world, and of course, I talk about my DU experience and stepping on stage at the Met and opera houses around the world.”

Tian has leant his distinctive bass voice to a host of opera productions over the past two decades, performing with such opera heavyweights as Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Seiji Ozawa and the late Luciano Pavarotti.

Tian came to DU in 1983 after receiving a scholarship from the Lamont School of Music. Tian also received DU’s Professional Achievement Award in 2008, which recognizes alumni achievement.

Over the years, Tian has helped establish the cultural relationship between the United States and China. Tian premiered the Chinese opera Poet Li Bai at the Central City Opera House in 2007 and brought the DU chorus into the production. Recently, he helped bring the opera to Beijing, Shanghai, Rome and Hong King. He’ll also take part in a performance commemorating the 30th anniversary of U.S.-China relations in New York in February.

“I think I’m lucky to say I’m one of the witnesses of all the relationships and friendships that have developed between the two countries,” Tian says. “When I was a young student at DU, nobody could imagine after 30 years what would happen between the two peoples and the two countries. I am lucky to be part of it.”

While Tian has helped build relations between the two world powers, he’s also leading the way for Chinese musicians. He’s the first Asian performer to receive his own special on PBS.

“This is a big honor for a musician — especially for an Asian one. For performers, a TV special is a very high honor.”

The special has already aired on PBS stations in select markets around the country. The Denver premier will coincide with a Rocky Mountain PBS pledge drive.

“We’ve received so many e-mails from different cities,” Tian says. “People are so interested in it, and they all thought of it as unique and touching.”

For more information about Tian’s show, visit www.rmpbs.org.

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