Starring: Marion Newman, mezzo soprano, as Da Ji
Derek Kwan, tenor, as Bo Yi
Vania Chan, coloratura soprano, as Moon I
Charlotte Corwin, soprano, as the Duchess
Benjamin Covey, baritone, as the Duke
Alexander Dobson, baritone, as the King
William Lau, nan dan, Peking Opera, as Moon II
Xin Wang as the servant Ming
And Toronto Masque Theatre Ensemble, featuring period and Chinese instruments conducted by Larry Beckwith.
WINNER – DORA MAVOR MOORE AWARD – Outstanding New Opera 2013
With this award-winning work, Juno Award nominated composer Alice Ping Yee Ho and her collaborator librettist Marjorie Chan have created an opera that blends Chinese, Baroque, and Western art forms while bringing legend and dance into a world of music and drama.The Lesson of Da Ji blends the European masque tradition with classical Peking opera to tell a vibrant and beautiful story, an invented tale of forbidden love based on the historic character of Da Ji, a famous concubine of the Shang Dynasty. The unique instrumentation of the accompanying ensemble has been chosen to showcase the expressive quality of Chinese instruments (pipa, zhongruan, guzheng, and erhu), the elegance of Baroque instruments (lute, recorders, harpsichord, bass viol), the lush Western strings as well as the dramatic use of percussion instruments.
“The Lesson of Love has a cracking good story and fascinating music that blends Chinese, Baroque, and other Western forms. …One sincerely hopes that the Lesson of Da Ji finds a permanent home on the opera stage.”
~Paula Citron, Opera Canada
Commissioned by Toronto Masque Theatre in 2012, with the help of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council.
Photo of Derek Kwan & Marion Newman, by Tarik Kieran, (top) | Photo of William Lau & Vania Chan by Gabriel Cropley, (bottom) both courtesy of Toronto Masque Theatre.