On September 13, 2015, thee o’clock p.m., join us for the world premiere of the monodrama opera, MOON IN THE MIRROR, at Flushing Town Hall. A contemporary retelling of a Chinese myth—as a monodrama opera—of a woman who flees her domestic life to preside forevermore on the moon.
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The all-pervading demigoddess grins provocatively as we glory in her silver glow. Chang E (pronounced Chong Eeh), so the ancient Chinese legend goes, escapes her famous hunter of a husband on earth to fly to the moon—hovering in immortality—with a little help of an illicit magic potion. Her story has been interpreted and scrutinized through millennia: She has been seen as a symbol of feminine selfishness, disloyalty, and cunning on the one hand, and, on the other, as the female archetype who desires eternal beauty, fertility, and longevity, and as the muse of poetic inspiration.
MOON IN THE MIRROR explores this ambivalent prototype of femininity and renders her a much-overdue voice through the transcendent mezzo-soprano tones of Hai-Ting Chinn. Ms. Chinn has been featured in Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach, which toured the world in 2013. In the title role of the Wooster Group’s production of Francesco Cavalli’s La Didone, premiered at the Edinburgh Festival, the Scotsman called her “glorious, poised, and poignant,” and during the production at St. Ann’s Warehouse, Timeout New York said of her: “Chinn has it all: breathtaking beauty, poise, comic timing and a voice of pure gold.” Ms. Chinn is accompanied by Vicky Chow on piano. Wondering Sound says: “Chow has proven herself to be a formidable talent.” Rhapsody calls her “virtuoso” and the Brooklyn Rail included her in the 2014 Best Music in the Classical Tradition roundup.
Composer Stephen Dembski brings his experience in both Euro-American and Afro-American musics to bear on his setting of this multivalent myth. The Penguin Guide to Jazz refers to his work for improvising musicians, under his “conduction,” as “exquisite,” while his Euro-tradition music was praised by the New York Times as “sensuous” and “ecstatic,” and by Pacifica Radio as simply “moving and beautiful.” Librettists and poets Zhang Er and Martine Bellen weave the poetry of “moon women” throughout time (Emily Dickinson, Xiao Hong, and others) with their poetry to create a timeless lyric.
MOON IN THE MIRROR, an opera-in-progress, will premiere at the historic Flushing Town Hall on September 13, 2015, in Queens, in the heart of New York’s most vibrant Chinese community, a few days before the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival—Chang E’s festival—celebrating the harvest moon. People of all ages are welcome to attend this free performance, which will feature voice and piano. Its duration is approximately forty minutes, and there will be an after-performance dialogue.