The first half of May was been a busy fortnight for opera in the Greater Bay Area. The renowned Chinese soprano He Hui sang her first Wagner role, Senta in Der fliegende Holländer, at the Guangzhou Opera House on 5 and 7 May, a dramatic move (literally and figuratively) away from the Verdi and Puccini heroines for which she is best known.

2019 has been a standout year for Chinese soprano He Hui: the debut of three new roles; a successful run at the Met, including her debut Met Live in HD performance in Madama Butterfly and her 15th consecutive year (a first for a soprano) of singing at the Arena di Verona. And this weekend, He comes full circle as she returns to the Shanghai Grand Theatre, where she made her operatic debut in 1998, to perform Turandot, the Chinese princess of Puccini’s opera of the same name.

Opera travels well. Its stories are the stories of our collective humanity—love, loss, revenge, strife, rebellion, rejuvenation, absurdity, tragedy—and its archetypes not only define cultures but also connect them. In many respects, we can no longer speak in essentializing ways about Western opera or Chinese opera, but rather must address the world of opera and global operatic voices.