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Marco Polo
Composer:Tan Dun
Librettist:Paul Griffiths
Marco Polo's legendary expedition from West to East is depicted onstage as a three-fold phenomenon: the physical journey, a spiritual journey, and a parallel musical journey. The explorer is divided: Marco represents being/action; Polo represents memory/feeling. As Marco makes his way from an Italian piazza to China's Great Wall in four scenes, accompanied by his companion Rustichello and other Beings and elements of Nature, Polo moves through the four-chaptered Book of Timespace: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn, interacting with the "shadows" of such historical figures as Dante, Shakespeare, and Li Po. In the opera, the three-fold journey ends at the Great Wall of China, a massive symbolic form which Marco Polo, the man, must break through.

Click company name to view productions details.
Music-Theatre GroupMarco Polo9/1/1998 - 9/15/1998
New York City OperaMarco Polo11/11/1997 - 11/21/1997
Music-Theatre GroupMarco Polo6/1/1997 - 6/1/1997

Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)

Musical Style
"World Music"-Dun incorporates tantric Tibetan music, Indian and classical Chinese music, lyrical Italian-style arias, quotations from Western music; Western avant-garde music with influences from Peking Opera, Kabuki, Indonesian shadow theater, etc.

Vocal & Musical Forces
Orchestra (Western instruments): flute (dbl. piccolo)*, oboe (dbl. Eng. horn), clarinet (dbl. bass clarinet), bassoon (dbl. contrabassoon), 2 horns, 2 trumpets*, 2 trombones, 3 percussion*, prepared piano, harp*, strings (at least 55442); (World Instruments): optional recorder (flute*), optional medieval harp (harp*), optional rebec (violin I*), sitar, tabla (perc.*), 2 Tibetan horns (2 trumpets*), Tibetan bells (perc.*), pipa (Chinese lute); Tibetan bells, Tibetan horns, and Tibetan singing bowls are available from the composer or the publisher; chorus of at least 16; seven principals: soprano, 2 mezzo-sopranos, Peking Opera singer, dramatic tenor, baritone, bass; seven dancers

Original Cast
Thomas Young (Polo)
Alexandra Montano (Marco)
Dong-Jian Gong (Kublai Khan)
Susan Botti (Water)
Shizheng Chen (Rustichello/Li Po)
Nina Warren (Sheherezada/Mahler/Queen)
Stephen Bryant (Dante/Shakespeare)

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