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Chicago Opera Theater (COT), Chicago’s foremost producer of new and reimagined opera, continues its 50th Anniversary season with the Midwest Premiere of Huang Ruo’s environmentalist opera Book of Mountains and Seas presented in partnership with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival and produced by Beth Morrison Projects. Scored for twelve singers -the artists of ARS NOVA Copenhagen – and two percussionists, the opera also features six puppeteers wielding beautiful, larger-than-life puppets designed by the opera’s Director, world-renowned puppeteer Basil Twist. Book of Mountains and Seas will be performed Friday, January 26 and Saturday, January 27 at 7:30 PM and Sunday, January 28 at 3:00 PM at the Studebaker Theater in the Fine Arts Building, 410 S Michigan Ave. Tickets start at $45 and available now at chicagooperatheater.org.
Book of Mountains and Seas is inspired by the ancient compilation of Chinese myths and legends of the same title – 山海經 (Shanhai jing)- first written down during the Qin Dynasty in the 4th Century BC. Throughout the centuries, these classic tales have been told over and over again, becoming part of Chinese written and oral history. The opera Book of Mountains and Seas is a contemporary retelling of four of these well-known stories that brings into focus our modern-day relationship with the natural world and the relevance of the ancient wisdom of the original tales during a time of overlapping environmental crises of 21st century society. Composer and librettist Huang Ruo’s vibrant and inventive score, which draws inspiration from Chinese folk music alongside other musical idioms, and the unique libretto featuring a combination of Chinese and an invented language, conjure a sense of respect and awe for the environment while challenging audiences to be good stewards of the natural resources we have been given. Also on the creative team, Miles Lallemant conducts, and Poe Saegusa is lighting designer.