Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Memory Stone (Week 1: March 30)

Kenny Fries’s libretto for “The Memory Stone,” is an evocative, deeply poetic text that echoes with references to noh, a masked theatrical form from the 14th century full of wonderment, mystery, and illusion in which audience members are asked to suspend their disbelief as the actors undergo transformation and time is often depicted in a non-linear fashion. When I set this text therefore, I sought to transport the listener across time and geographical space, deliberately evoking foreign frames of reference through ample use of two representative Japanese instruments, the shakuhachi (end-blown bamboo flute) and 21-string koto (zither) and using fluid musical materials that allow the drama to seamlessly oscilllate between the past and present, Houston and Japan, reality and memory, and American and Japanese identity, among other dualities. “The Memory Stone” reminds us of how trauma and loss can help us to reevaluate our past, and how, since these are basic facets of the human condition, we can transcend suffering and find ways to reconnect with what is truly important, like our family and loved ones, our communities, and our ancestry and culture.

Today we spent a lot of time reviewing stage for the last couple of scenes of the opera and ran through–without a hitch!–the most complicated scenes in terms of staging while being observed by HGOco staff. Over the weekend, Kenny and I were interviewed over the phone for a piece to be posted on broadwayworld.com. So excited as we move forward into our second week and add the two soloists (shakuhachi and 21-string koto) and the string quartet!

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Ji Hyun Jang as Rei, ballet dancer in the Houston Ballet, elegant bearing. Originally from Japan, but moved to the U.S. with her family when she was ten
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Rei and Hana, transformed by the mysterious Woman's powers

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