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Music Text

Libretto by Richard Bletschacher (G)

Scoring

S,2M,3T,4Bar,9speakers; chorus;
2(=picc).1.corA.1.Ebcl.bcl.1.dbn-4.3.3.1-timp.perc(2):3tom-t/2cym/
susp.cym/whip/large tam-t/BD/bell-vib-harp-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
5/13/1975
Ulm
Peter Borchardt, director
Conductor: Friedrich Pleyer
Company: Ulm Opera

Roles

WANG SI-LANG, a young landowner Baritone
MENG TJANG-NU, his wife Lyric Soprano
NEIGHBOUR Mezzo Soprano
NEIGHBOUR'S SON Spoken role
A YOUNG WOMAN Spoken role
CHUAN, an old man from the village Bass
INNKEEPER Mezzo Soprano
A PEASANT Spoken role
A BALLAD SINGER Tenor
1ST SOLDIER Baritone
2ND SOLDIER Tenor
4 OLD AND 5 YOUNG WORKERS Spoken roles
AN OLD WOMAN Spoken role
THE SUPERVISOR Baritone
SHI HUANG-TI, the emperor Tenor
THE ORACLE Baritone
Workers, Peasants, Soldiers, Bigshots, Court officials and Imperial women Chorus
Time and Place

China, in ancient times

Synopsis

A young woman from the southern part of the Chinese empire bids farewell to her husband, who is part of the town’s quota to be forcibly taken off to the North during the building of the Great Wall. He hopes to return the following Autumn, but the omens are not good. She starts work on a jacket to keep him warm and when it is ready she sets out on the ‘Long Way’ to the North in search of her husband. The progressive long journey reveals the woman’s devotion for her husband. After many difficulties she reaches the building site and discovers that he has been accidentally killed and lies buried beneath the stones of the Wall. Her tears cause part of the wall to collapse and the young Emperor takes an interest in this unusual woman. She succeeds in persuading the Emperor to allow her to look for the body of her dead husband and arrange to have it buried. The Emperor orders the Wall to be pulled down and the dead man is found. At his burial, the woman throws her husband’s jacket upon his body in the grave and embraces eternity.

Moods

Poetic, Tragic

Subjects

Ethics, History, Politics, Relationships, Society




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