Soprano Helen Zhibing Huang is a White Snake Projects veteran, having previously sung in workshops for Gilgamesh and REV. 23, as well as writing the song “I Can’t Understand a Word You’re Saying” alongside composer Michele Cheng for SING OUT STRONG: Immigrant Voices. She is now performing in our main stage opera, I Am A Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams as the lawyer Singa whose family emigrated to the United States from Indonesia when she was a child. In between rehearsals, she talked to us about working with WSP, her own immigration story, and more.
Q: How do you relate to your character in Dreamer?
Just like Singa, I also came to the United States when I was young. I moved to the US when I was 10. It’s interesting that a lot of the lines that young Singa and Rosa says in the opera, I have said a lot of them in real life.
Q: How has your journey as an immigrant shaped your life and art?
It has shaped me a great deal. No matter what one’s journey is as an immigrant, it takes a lot of strength to leave everything you know and go to a brand new country that you know nothing about to start a new life. Being an immigrant made me realize that I can get through any difficulty in life, it forced me to look deep into myself and allowed to be happy with who I am inside and out. I have also made it my life long artistic mission to give a voice to fellow immigrants and minorities with my art.
Q: How did you become involved with White Snake Projects?
I workshopped Gilgamesh and REV. 23 when I was a graduate student in Boston. I really fell in love with the work that the company does as well as how it always tries to lift up minority groups, so when Cerise approached me about this project, I was so excited and immediately agreed to it.
Q: If you had to swap roles with another member of the production, who would you want to swap with and why?
Probably Kirsten because she gets to play so many different yet very complex characters.
Q: What non-musical activity do you enjoy doing on your downtime?
I am a real foodie and I LOVE to eat any and everything I can whenever I visit a place.