Moon Spirit Feasting, 2000

Chinese ritual street opera for 3 singers and 9 musicians with libretto by Beth Yahp. A shamanistic & zany ride into the worlds of the Moon Goddess Chang-O, the Monkey King and the Queen Mother of the West amidst an invisible audience of hungry ghosts.

Yuè Lìng Jié (Moon Spirit Feasting) (1997-2000)     Shopping_Cart_Rounded_Solid-512.png

Chinese ritual street opera in 7 parts For 3 singers, 9 instruments and live electronics. Fl/Picc/Bass Fl, Cl/Bass Cl, Alto Sax/Bar Sax, Tpt/Flugel Hn, 2 Perc, Koto, Er-hu, Vc

Libretto by Beth Yahp (in English and Chinese). Characters: Chang-O, soprano Queen Mother of the West, mezzo soprano, Hou Yi/Monkey King, baritone

Duration: 75′, Score (138448) Ricordi Milano

Jointly Commissioned by the Adelaide and Melbourne Festivals with support
from the Major Festivals Initiative, the Australia Council and Arts Queensland
Premiere: 15 March 2000, Adelaide Festival, Torrens River barge
ELISION Ensemble, conductor Simon Hewett
Singers: Deborah Kayser, Melissa Madden Gray, Orren Tanabe,
Directed by Michael Kantor, stage designer Dorotka Sapinska,
choreographer Melissa Madden Gray

*Scene 6 of the opera: Chang O Flies to the Moon can be performed separately in concert. Chang-O programme note

Chang-O Flies to the Moon (Deborah Kayser), Brisbane 2006

Performance seasons

Adelaide International Festival of the Arts, 2000
Melbourne International Festival of the Arts, 2002
IRCAM, Paris (Concert performance of excerpt), 2002
Hebbel Theatre Berlin, 2002
Zurich Theatre Spektakel, 2002
Saitama Arts Centre, Tokyo, 2002
Brisbane International Festival of the Arts, 2006

Touching on the shamanistic origins of performance (significantly an earlier work by Lim was based on a classical piece of mythic Greek theatre, the Oresteia), Moon Spirit Feasting is a frenetic helter skelter ride of anima-driven, procreative and mystical proportions. Mezzo soprano Melissa Madden Gray (as Queen Mother of the West and Demon Goddess) and the baritone Orren Tanabe (the Archer Hou Yi and Monkey King) contest differing versions of the legend of the Moon Goddess Chang-O (soprano Deborah Kayser). The performers seem possessed: vocal and physical virtuosi. The extravagantly kitsch, super-sensible realm of these vexatious gods makes us feel richly, positively, contradictorily human. And these are not just 9 musicians being conducted by the man 3 seats along, they are monks, ghosts and humans crying out in another and necessary voice. In contemporary chamber music style, the compelling, hybrid musical score uses Eastern and Western instrumentation to transport us from the bustling street to the stillness of the stars. The final, cosmic image of the Moon Goddess Chang-O brings us full circle back via Constance to Nora embodying a similarly solitary, ambivalent freedom. – Douglas Leonard, ‘Regenerative Inversions’, RealTime issue #75 Oct-Nov 2006 pg. 8.

Liza Lim in ‘Moon Spirit Feasting’ has achieved an overwhelmingly powerful and contemporary invocation of an old Chinese myth that neither sinks into rigid avant garde nor pop, but plays instead with both—one of the few examples of a successful hybridisation.
Bernd Feuchtner, Opernwelt, Aug 2002
[Moon Spirit Feasting] is by turns mysterious, funny, aggressive, mystical, rude, expressive, obscene, in short uncompromising. Especially the mezzo soprano Melissa Madden-Gray…and baritone Orren Tanabe…let loose an explosive performance energy. Both their physical and vocal performances are acrobatic and virtuosic…The Elision ensemble presented the work outstandingly.
Tages-Anzeiger, Aug 24, 2002