FROM THE OTHER SKY
a miniature opera in three scenes and a postlude
Music and Libretto by Wang Jie.
Instrumentation: Singers, Fl, Cl, Bsn, Hn, Tpt, Trbn, Tba, 3 Perc, Keyboard soloist: Hpsd/Cel/Pno, Strings.
Duration: 17 minutes (update 2014: expanding to 30 min)
Experiencing compassion for the first time, a Zodiac Goddess loses her place in the heavens to share her musical powers with mankind.
The Lark (Coloratura/Soprano), The Rat & The Crippled Woman (Mezzo-Sop.), The Rooster (Actor or Lyric-baritone), The Monkey (Keyboards Soloist)
This is recorded live at the premiere on Oct. 15th 2010 at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall
American Composers Orchestra led by George Manahan
Emily Hindrichs, Coloratura | Krysty Swann, Mezzo-soprano | Hugh Sinclair, Actor | Wang Jie, Keyboard Solo
FROM THE OTHER SKY is a multi-media concert opera based on the composer’s short story of the same title. American Composers Orchestra had commissioned me a new work for 2010 season, and they asked that the new work reflect “Mystics and Magic”. I felt necessary to intensify this theme with an original narrative of the mystical and magical power of music.
Set in 3 Scenes and a Postlude, FROM THE OTHER SKY is a fable on how the thirteen animals of the Chinese Zodiac (in the order of Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig and Lark) came to become twelve (the Lark doesn’t exist in the Chinese Zodiac as we know it). The Lark is an accidental heroine (the Holy Fool in the tradition of Wagner’s Parsifal) who saves the world unwittingly: as a result, not of what she does, but what is done to her.
During the ACO performance, members of the orchestra were part of the cast. An Actor performed and interacted with the singers, soloist and orches-tra members. A supertitle animation was projected as the backdrop of the scenes. The composer was casted as the Monkey, playing three keyboards: the Harpsichord, the Piano and the Celesta.
Program Notes by Wang Jie
This is my Carnegie Hall debut. I’ve been performing since I was five and I’ve never been so dressed up in my life! So thank you for putting on your good shoes and sharing this special moment with me.
I still remember my piano teacher’s earliest advice to my father: “Mr. Wang, if you can get her to concentrate on one thing at a time, she might actually learn this big instrument.”
Turns out, I’ve got a wandering mind, a.k.a the Day Dreaming Disease. At any moment, my thoughts may wander from philosophy to a mouth-watering dinner recipe, and may then come under attack from insistent muses who command me to publish their music. Much like throwing some bones to a dog, these muses place bits of music and ideas in my head and expect me to have at it! So if you find yourself elated by tonight’s performance, the credit goes to them. If you hate it, well, it’s only 15 minutes long.
As for how good a pianist I turned out to be, I guess you’ll have to fasten your seatbelt and find out for yourself.
At the risk of spoiling the show, I should mention that I concocted this Lark kid out of thin air. Imagine my surprise when she turned out to be me, living simultaneously in the past, present and future.