Chen Shi-Zheng is a China-born, New York-based director, choreographer, singer, and actor. As a child in Changsha, Hunan during the Cultural Revolution, he was taken under the wing of traditional funeral singers, who were among some of the great masters of Chinese opera. He became a leading young opera actor, performing until his mid-20s in many productions throughout China, and simultaneously recorded albums of folksongs and contemporary pop music. He emigrated to the United States in 1987, and was soon tapped by Meredith Monk for a principal role in "Atlas" for Houston Grand Opera. This began a crossover career in which he explores his own artistic expression that erases the boundaries between music, theatre, dance and film. In 2000, Mr. Chen was awarded the title "Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres" by the French Ministry of Culture.
In 1999, his landmark 19-hour production of "The Peony Pavilion" was hailed as one of the most important theatrical events of the 20th century. "The Peony Pavilion" premiered as the centerpiece of Lincoln Center Festival in New York and at Festival d'Automne in Paris, and toured to Piccolo Teatro in Milan, Perth International Arts Festival, Aarhus Festival in Denmark, Berlin Festival, Vienna Festival and at the Esplanade Centre in Singapore. It has been filmed for home video distribution by RM Associates.
A selection of Mr. Chen's other directing credits includes "Mercury Light World" (Berlin Festival); "My Life as a Fairy Tale" (Lincoln Center Festival, and Aarhus Festival, Denmark); a trilogy of contemporary theater works based on Chinese classics - "Orphan of Zhao" in two versions (Lincoln Center Theater & Lincoln Center Festival), "Snow in June" (American Repertory Theatre), and "Peach Blossom Fan" (RedCat); "Dido and Aeneas" (Handel & Hayden Society, Spoleto Festival USA); "The Flying Dutchman" (Spoleto Festival USA); "Night Banquet" (co-commissioned by Festival d'Automne à Paris, Kunstenfestival des Arts in Brussels, Hebbel-Theater in Berlin, Ensemble Modern in Frankfurt, and Lincoln Center Festival in New York); the documentary film Cultural Warriors of the Revolution (TV France 3); "Cosi Fan Tutti" (Aix-en-Provence Festival and Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris); and Alley (New Zealand Festival of the Arts). He made his directorial debut in 1996 with "The Bacchae" (China National Beijing Opera Company, Hong Kong International Arts Festival and Athens Festival).
Mr. Chen's current projects include directing "Coronation of Popea" for English National Opera as part of a complete Monteverdi cycle that he began with "Vespers" of 1610 and continued with "Orfeo." He has conceived and is developing a circus spectacle of "Monkey: Journey to the West" in collaboration with the virtual music group Gorillaz, for a 2007 premiere at Manchester International Festival, Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, and Berlin Staatsopera. Slated for 2008 is "The Bonesetter's Daughter" by Amy Tan with music by Stewart Wallace for San Francisco Opera. Dark Matter is his first feature film.