Shi-Zheng creates a breathtaking series of dramaturgically structured dances, exploring themes of adoration, innocence, love and delight. This is a Vespers which, like the score itself, bypasses philosophical name-calling. There’s an instant ecumenical appeal. … Shi-Zheng has created an evening that is visually harmonious, passionate yet calm. By treating the Vespers as a love-song to the Virgin Mary, he touches on the most fundamental of human emotions. Like all great polyphony, this is about limitless artistic freedom within a framework of extraordinarily rigorous restraint. It’s restrained, tasteful, bizarre and visionary all at once. Shi-Zheng wants to produce a complete Monteverdi cycle; it would be a crime if he didn’t.
Financial Times September 25, 2003
As inspiring as it was improbable, the Handel and Hayden Society’s staging of Monteverdi’s Vespers took flight with such poetic beauty that you had to wonder why no one had ever done it before. But then the producer Chen Shi-Zheng’s take on the work was one of those concepts that could have made sense only in retrospect.
Opera, December, 2003
… a staged version of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 that is as eloquent as the nearly 400-year-old music itself…… It will be impossible to ever hear this music again without imagining the delicate movements and profound stage pictures of Chen’s production.
Boston Herald September 20, 2003
“I was utterly overwhelmed by Chen’s hypnotic, moving achievement… Throughout the evening a powerful tenderness pervaded the spectacle… I don’t mind admitting that this obstinate unbeliever, this unrepentant lover of the sophisticated, the complex, the questioning, was moved to tears.”
The Spectator Oct 25 2003