Home > Terms > English (EN) > Cao Zheng

Cao Zheng

Cao Zheng (July 9, 1966 - February 21, 2013) was a noted Chinese-American mezzo-soprano opera singer who appeared regularly with the San Francisco Opera and on stages worldwide. Born during China's Cultural Revolution, she came to the United States at the age of 23 with two suitcases and $45 to her name. She took up opera at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She then moved to San Francisco to start her singing career, first as an Adler Fellow and then in repeated performances at the Opera beginning with a 1995 appearance as Siebel in Gounod's "Faust." Her signature performance was playing Suzuki, the patient servant in Puccini's "Madama Butterfly". She also performed roles in Mozart's "Idomeneo," "The Rake's Progress" by Stravinsky and Virgil Thomson's "The Mother of Us All."

Ms. Cao's biggest assignment was in "Bonesetter," in which she created the role of Ruth Young Kamen, the American-born protagonist torn between her Chinese roots and the demands of a new life. It was a triumphant performance, marked by tonal heft and emotional vulnerability.

It was shortly after that opera that Ms. Cao was first diagnosed with cancer, which was already in stage four. The tumors had spread to her liver, lung, neck and spine, and she was given six months to live.

But through a bold series of treatments, she survived three more years, continuing to sing and make public appearances. She premiered Nathaniel Stookey's song cycle "Into the Bright Lights" with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, substituting for von Stade, who had written the libretto based on her own experience at the end of a career.

Beloved by many people, Ms. Cao died on February 21, 2013 at her home in San Francisco after a long battle with cancer. She was 46.

  • Part of Speech: proper noun
  • Synonym(s):
  • Blossary:
  • Industry/Domain: People
  • Category: Singers
  • Company:
  • Product:
  • Acronym-Abbreviation:
Collect to Blossary

Member comments

You have to log in to post to discussions.

Terms in the News

Billy Morgan

Sports; Snowboarding

The British snowboarder Billy Morgan has landed the sport’s first ever 1800 quadruple cork. The rider, who represented Great Britain in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, was in Livigno, Italy, when he achieved the man-oeuvre. It involves flipping four times, while body also spins with five complete rotations on a sideways or downward-facing axis. The trick ...

Marzieh Afkham

Broadcasting & receiving; News

Marzieh Afkham, who is the country’s first foreign ministry spokeswoman, will head a mission in east Asia, the state news agency reported. It is not clear to which country she will be posted as her appointment has yet to be announced officially. Afkham will only be the second female ambassador Iran has had. Under the last shah’s rule, Mehrangiz Dolatshahi, a ...

Weekly Packet

Language; Online services; Slang; Internet

Weekly Packet or "Paquete Semanal" as it is known in Cuba is a term used by Cubans to describe the information that is gathered from the internet outside of Cuba and saved onto hard drives to be transported into Cuba itself. Weekly Packets are then sold to Cuban's without internet access, allowing them to obtain information just days - and sometimes hours - after it ...

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Banking; Investment banking

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an international financial institution established to address the need in Asia for infrastructure development. According to the Asian Development Bank, Asia needs $800 billion each year for roads, ports, power plants or other infrastructure projects before 2020. Originally proposed by China in 2013, a signing ...


Online services; Internet

Spartan is the codename given to the new Microsoft Windows 10 browser that will replace Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer. The new browser will be built from the ground up and disregard any code from the IE platform. It has a new rendering engine that is built to be compatible with how the web is written today. The name Spartan is named after the ...

Featured Terms

  • 0


  • 9


  • 1


Industry/Domain: Religion Category: General religion

Church of Hosios David

The Church of Hosios David, is a late 5th-century church in Thessaloniki, Greece. In Byzantine times, it functioned as the katholikon of the Latomos ...