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Music Text

Libretto by Winfried Bauernfeind based on the ancient Chinese didactic drama by Ma Chi-Yuan (14th century) in the translation by Hans Rudelsberger (G)


S,M,T,2Bar,B; chorus(may be pre-recorded);
2(I=afl,II=picc).2(II=corA).1(=bcl).1(=dbn)- bells(sm)/tam-t/3susp.cym/maracas/ratchet/whip-harp-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
Akademie der Künste, Studio, Berlin
Winfried Bauernfeind, director
Conductor: Ulrich Weder
Company: Ensemble der Deutschen Oper Berlin


TUNG-HUA, an immortal Bass
CHING-YANG, a hermit Baritone
MRS. WANG, Innkeeper Mezzo soprano
PIEN-FU, a merchant Tenor
YÜ-CHAN, his wife Soprano
LIU-TUNG, a young student High Baritone
Dream images: I. TSUI-WO, Liu-Tung's wife, daughter of the Kao (Yü-Chan) - LIU-TUNG - KAO, the emperor's chamberlain (Ching-Yang)
II. TSUI-WO - KUEI, court official (Pien-Fu) - LIU-TUNG - YÜAN, Kao's old servant (Ching-Yang)
IV. LIU-TUNG - LU, a woodcutter (Ching-Yang) - MRS. PO, Wu-Sung's mother (Mrs. Wang) - WU-SUNG, a bandit (Ching-Yang)
Time and Place

China in the Middle Ages. Decor and costumes can be timeless in style.


The hermit, Ching-Yang, is commissioned by the heavenly ones to convert the student, Liu-Tung, who aspires to a distinguished career at the Emperor's court, to the wise teachings of the Tao and thus to the life of an ascetic. First, Ching-Yang puts Liu-Tung into a deep hypnotised sleep in which he demonstrates to him the vain nature of his strivings in four dream images: as the Emperor´s favourite, Liu-Tung is promoted to captain and goes to war. When he returns, he surprises his wife in flagrante with a rival. But he has also brought blame upon himself for, during the war, he took bribes from the enemy and is a traitor. He is caught and sentenced to death. He manages to escape the executioner but, in the end, he is killed while fleeing. – When he awakens from his anxious sleep, Liu-Tung comprehends the meaning of the dreams and renounces all striving for love, power, and riches.


Dramatic, Poetic


Mythology, Relationships, Religion

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