Saturday Night at the Opera playlist for 03/01/2014
On this program, we explored China in its past and present, through the journey of a girl in search of her past, and an explorer in search of new worlds. The program began with composer Rene Orth's new opera The Red Thread (2013). A mother, under the shadow of China's One Child policy, gives her newborn baby girl away, by the desire (and necessity) for a boy child, as another mother elsewhere mourns her fourth miscarriage and hopes for an adoption. A girl, twenty years later, searches for the truth of her past and her birth mother. Emily Howes is the Daughter; Emily Albrink, the Adoptive Mother; Sarah Murrell, the Birth Mother; Dan Weeks, Chad Sloan, and Craig Price, the Government Figures. In Tan Dun's Marco Polo (1995), an opera within an opera, East meets West as explorer Marco Polo journeys from Italy to China, crossing paths with the spirits of Dante, Shakespeare, Sheherazada, Mahler, Li Po, and Rustichello. Three journeys — physical, spiritual, and musical — align with two operas — the Eastern- and spiritually-influenced "Book of Timespace" (Opera I), and the Western- and physically-influenced Opera II. Thomas Young (tenor) plays the memory of Polo, Alexandra Montano (Mezzo Soprano) as the being of Marco, Dong-Jian Gong (Bass) as Kublai Kahn, Susan Botti (Soprano) as Water, Shi-Zheng Chen (Beijing Opera Singer) as the shadows of Rustichello and Li Po, Nina Warren (Soprano) as the shadows of Sheherazada/Mahler/Queen, and Stephen Bryant (Baritone) as the shadows of Dante and Shakespeare. Ya Dong is on Pipa, Wolfram Winkel on Tabla, Al Gromer Khan on Sitar. Completing the program was Tan Dun's ritual opera Nine Songs (1989), composed whilest a doctoral student at Columbia University. The Nine Songs are based on the great ancient poet Qu Yuan's (370-277 BCE) poems of the same name, intended for performance with dance.