RedDust: A Multimedia Chamber Opera

Matthew Rosenblum (2007)


Created by the STUDIO’s past fellow Matthew Rosenblum, RedDust has several intersecting narratives threads – the primary narrative strands include a fairy tale story from the most famous of all Chinese novels, “The Story of the Stone” by Ts’ao Hsüeh-ch’in, a 1934 NBC Radio Interview with Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein spoken-word text performances, and the “real-life” “through-story” of the primary character drawn from the novel Chinese Letter by Svetislav Basara. Additional dream literature from Stein, Barthelme, and Lu Xun, as well as cameo appearances from several other well-known authors, round out this work’s libretto.

RedDust is focused through the perspective of the central character, a Chinese author, Shi-yin. Shi-yin is caught in a crisis of conscience and is unable to write. He had an affair with a young girl that ended in her suicide. He tries repeatedly to exorcise his feelings of guilt and confusion, and to rediscover his creative impulse, by writing the story of a stone that comes to life as a young boy. The boy-stone is taken on a journey of discovery by the Taoist Fairy of Disenchantment. The mysterious Fairy of Disenchantment resembles the American author Gertrude Stein. The boy is led by the Fairy through life-defining experiences, confronts the inaccessibility of the future, the gulf between words and meaning, and the illusion of love, learning a lesson of detachment that helps author Shi-yin confront his own demons and set pen to page once more.



Video Credits: Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Andy Warhol Museum, May 18, 2007, Jonathan Eaton, Director, Paul Hostetter, conductor, Kurt Ralske, video art, Jo Ellen Miller, Soprano, Anna Singer, Mezzo Soprano, Kelvin Chan, Baritone, Attack Theatre Dancers, Lou Yellin and Jim Ledoux, videography, Dave Bjornson, sound recording
Instrumentation: Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Baritone, four dancers, video artist, surround-sound audio, and chamber orchestra (fl, cl, bs, cl, bsn, ten sax., hn, 2 tpt, bs, tbn, 2 perc, pno, 2 elec. Gt., 2 vln, vla, vc, cb)
Duration: 90’
Premiere: May 18, 2007, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh.
Commission: Commissioned by Sequitur in conjunction with the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and Meet The Composer’s Commissioning Music/USA
Shi-yin the author – baritone
Gertrude Stein, The Fairy Disenchantment – mezzo-soprano
Shi-yin’s Lover (Moira), Crimson Pearl Flower – female dancer
Pao-yu, Stone – soprano
Monk – dancer
Taoist Priest – dancer




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