Out of the Shadows

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Sunbirds, demons and hairy giants: Huang Ruo's The Book of Mountains and Seas premieres at the Royal Danish Opera

Premiere of Huang Ruo's The Book of Mountains and Seas
The Chinese-born American-resident composer Huang Ruo is an intriguing figure, mixing both Chinese traditional and Western classical music. Born in 1976, the year the Chinese Cultural Revolution ended, he was taught composition and piano by his father, also a composer, and his training at Shanghai Conservatory of Music involved both traditional Chinese and Western music. His education continued in the USA at Oberlin Conservatory and the Juilliard School. His opera Dr Sun Yat-Sen premiered at Opera Hong Kong in 2011 with a Chinese orchestra, whilst the version for Western classical orchestra with three Chinese instrumental musicians had its premiere at the Santa Fe Festival in 2014, and his 2015 opera Paradise Interrupted premiered at Spoleto Festival USA and then toured Asia and Europe.

Huang Ruo's latest opera The Book of Mountains and Seas premieres at Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen on 3 November 2021. The opera is an adaptation of the 2,400 year-old ancient Chinese creation myth-book of the same name and uses large-scale puppetry by Basil Twist. The performances are conducted by Paul Hillier with Ars Nova Copenhagen, and together, singers and puppeteers evoke a mythological world of sunbirds, demons and hairy giants.

The work is a co-commission by Beth Morrison Projects, Ars Nova (Copenhagen), Moss Arts Center/ Virginia Tech, Toronto Soundstreams, Koorbiennale, Hong Kong New Vision Festival, and Linda & Stuart Nelson, and will have its American premiere in January 2022 as part of the tenth annual PROTOTYPE Festival in New York.

Full details from the Royal Danish Opera website.

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