Opera, like many of the more tr
Opera, like many of the more traditional art forms, does not deserve its bum rep. Known for its over-the-top dramatics, the Western tradition of combining libretto (text or lyrics) with a musical score takes on a contemporary twist in Tea: A Mirror of Soul, which enjoyed its US East Cost Premiere last Friday and runs through February 28th at the Academy of Music. Whether you are an opera fan or novice, Tea: A Mirror of Soul will change your opinion of opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia.
Acclaimed composer Tan Dun, who won both Oscar and Grammy awards for his score to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, brings an Eastern flair to opera in Tea: A Mirror of Soul. His unique use of sound effects â€“ from water splashing to paper crinkling â€“ increases the dimensions a classical score can achieve. The onstage percussion becomes part of the drama of the opera, resonating above the pit orchestra and enhancing the libretto. The prosaic text, which is sung in English, was written by Tan Dun and Xu Ying.
Drawing on the basic elements of fire, water, paper and stone, Tea: A Mirror of Soul tells the story of Seikyo (played by baritone Haijing Fu), who was once a prince, but became a monk after the loss of his true love, Princess Lan (played by soprano Kelly Kaduce). Through numerous metaphors (many not so subtle ones in the love scene), the story rises to conflict when the Princessâ€™ brother (sung by tenor Roger Honeywell) wagers a deadly bet with Seikyo. The cast also includes The Emperor (played by bass Kirk Eichelberger) and the Lu, the tea ritualist (sung by mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby).
The bold, striking scenes sit quite at home on the grandiose stage at the Academy of Music (designed by Rumi Matsui). The setâ€™s vibrant colors are matched in the exquisite costuming, completing the modern Asian motif (costumes designed by Masatoma Ota). Director Amon Miyamoto has been with Tea: A Mirror of Soul since its American Premier for the Santa Fe Opera in 2007. Tan Dun conducted the opening weekend, and Maestro David Hayes will continue for the final three performances.
Friday, February 19, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 21, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, February 26, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.
Estimated Running Time: 2 hours