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World Premiere of New, Cutting-Edge Musical Drama, The Red Silk Thread, Comes to the Phillips Center for Performing Arts April 17 and 19

Opera, dance and cutting-edge technology collide to bring the journey of Marco Polo to life during the world premiere of The Red Silk Thread: An Epic Tale of Marco Polo. This exhilarating new opera by composer and UF Distinguished Alumna Dr. Stella Sung and librettist Ernest Hilbertinvites audiences to visit an era of regal splendor, dangerous promises and astonishing turns of fate as they travel to the legendary court of the Great Kublai Khan and venture with the daring Italian traveler Marco Polo through an unforgettable journey. With grant support from VisitGainesville and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Culture Builds Florida’s Future, performances will take place April 17and 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Phillips Center for Performing Arts at the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville, Fla. 

A World-Class Cast

The Red Silk Thread, under the direction of renowned stage director Beth Greenberg, features an ensemble cast of professional artists and performers from UF Opera Theatre, directed by Dr. Anthony Offerle, and the UF Symphony Orchestra, led by maestro Raymond Chobaz. The UF Dance department and the UF Concert Choir will also join the cast as they infuse the performances with uplifting choreography and stunning voices.

“Our students are very fortunate to have the opportunity to sing alongside these world-class opera stars,” says Offerle. “Hein Jung and Matt Morgan, who are performing the roles of the Princess and Marco Polo, have sung with the San Francisco Opera and the New York City Opera, to name a few. UF graduate and undergraduate singers will train closely with these working professionals in and out of rehearsals and by attending master classes.”

“I am also thrilled to be producing a world premiere here in North Florida,” says Offerle. “We’ve brought some wonderful pieces such as La Traviata, Tosca and The Magic Flute to the Phillips Center, but this is the first time we will be performing a newly created work. Stella Sung’s music is absolutely beautiful! Lovely lyric melodies and lush harmonies make this a piece everyone will enjoy, from the first time theatergoer to the most avid opera fan.”

Technology Meets Opera

The collaborative performances are further distinguished by immersive stagecraft and cutting-edge technology, including the use of 3-D projection mapping. The Orlando, Fla.-based animation company Ninjaneer Studios™ will create virtual sets, animation and digitally projected images to transport audiences to the legendary court of the Great Kublai Khan.

Opera composer Sung has been recognized as an American composer of national and international stature and has received numerous awards and honors. She is one of five recipients of the prestigious Music Alive award sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music and The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund. As a result of this award, Sung is now the Composer-in-Residence for the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance in Dayton, Ohio, and will be creating new works for the orchestra, ballet and opera over the next several seasons.

Sung is currently director of the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) Center of Research and Education in Arts, Technology and Entertainment (CREATE) and holds a Pegasus Professorship, the highest recognition UCF awards to outstanding faculty members.

“Audiences will be riveted by this story of love, destiny, action and betrayal as they are transported back in time to an ancient land, but are engaged with forward-thinking collaborations between opera and innovative design technologies,” says Sung. “The opera of the past and the future becomes one during this world-premiere performance.”

Performance and Ticket Information

The UF Phillips Center for Performing Arts, 3201 Hull Road, Gainesville, FL 32611, will host two performances of The Red Silk Thread April 17and 19, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, which range from $10 for students and children to $40, may be purchased by phone at 352-392-ARTS (2787) or online at (Please note additional processing fees may apply for online purchases).

View Behind-the-Scenes Video Footage

Documentary film director, Lisa Mills, has created numerous video clips offering a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Red Silk Thread. To view her videos, visit

About the College of Fine Arts

The College of Fine Arts is one the 16 colleges and more than 150 research centers and institutes at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla. The College of Fine Arts offers baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its three fully-accredited schools — the School of Art and Art History, School of Music and School of Theatre and Dance. The college is home to the Center for Arts in Medicine, Center for World Arts, Digital Worlds Institute and the New World School of the Arts in Miami. More than 100 faculty members and more than 1,220 students work together daily to engage, inspire and create. The college hosts more than 300 events each year and faculty and students also exhibit and perform at other local, national and international venues. Guests are welcome to attend college events and visit the University Galleries, University Auditorium and Constans Theatre, among other on-campus arts venues. To learn more, visit


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