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Ouroboros Trilogy: Gilgamesh, Naga, Madame White Snake

Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theatre

219 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116

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Choirs: Central Intermediate Advanced Choir, Concert Choir, Premier Choir
Status: Public

Ouroboros is a three-part exploration of life, death and rebirth, as symbolized by the ancient Greek icon of a serpent eating its own tail. The trilogy, produced by Beth Morrison Projects and The Friends of Madame White Snake, will be presented in Boston in the fall of 2016, both as individual operas and as seven hour full-day events. The production will bring together an acclaimed artistic team, including conductors Carolyn Kuan, Julian Wachner, and Lan Shui, and composers Zhou Long, Paola Prestini, and Scott Wheeler. Many extraordinary Boston music institutions such as The New England Conservatory of Music, The Boston Children’s Chorus, Arts Emerson, The Boston Children’s Museum and the Celebrity Series of Boston are participating in the project.

Conceived by Charles and Cerise Jacobs
​Directed by Michael Counts

Madame White Snake, co-commissioned by Opera Boston and the Beijing Music Festival, premiered in 2010 at Opera Boston and was brought to Beijing by Beth Morrison Projects for its Asian premiere at the Beijing Music Festival. Madame White Snake went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2011. The story is about the white snake demon who longs to become human to experience love. She transforms into a woman, meets Xu Xian, a mortal man and marries him. But she is afraid to disclose her true identity.  She encounters the Abbot of the Golden Mountain Monastery who recognizes her for who she is.  The Abbot sows the seeds of doubt in Xu Xian's mind and gives him a "truth potion" which re-transforms Madame White into a snake.  The abbot spirits Xu Xian away and the White Snake Raises the waters to drown the Abbot to get him back.  A great flood engulfs the world as she is defeated by the Abbot after giving birth to a son.

Composed by Zhou Long
Conducted by Lan Shui

Gilgamesh is the story of Ming, son of Madame White Snake, half demon-half man, abandoned during his mother's epic battle with the Abbot.  He is identified with the protagonist of the Sumerian Epic, "Gilgamesh", two-thirds god, one-third man.  He encounters his mother for the first time in her human form and imprisoned by the Abbot in the Golden Mountain Monastery.  She reveals his birthright - the power to control the waters and begs him to use this power to save her.  Ming returns home to find that his wife, Ku, has just given birth to a white, iridescent baby girl who resembles her grandmother.  He gives the baby to the green snake, Xiao Qing, who had taken him as a baby away from the floodwaters.  He returns to the Monastery. A robe and empty alms bowl are all that are left.  Ming dons the robe, takes the alms bow and leaves.

Composed by Paola Prestini
Conducted by Julian Wachner

Naga is the story of a young Monk who renounces everything to find nirvana.  The White Snake encounters him when he is saying goodbye to his wife.  The coupe's grief moves her.  She has never experienced such emotion.  The Monk encounters the demon, Mara, who tempts him three times.  The Monk resists the first two onslaughts, but almost succumbs to the third temptation.  The White Snake stops him and leads him to Master, a renowned healer, who takes him in as an apprentice in the healing arts.  When Master discovers the White Snake, he recognizes her magic - she is the answer to his prayers for the salvation fo the world; anyone who eats of her will be healed.  The monk, however, believes that she should be free so the universe will have beauty and uniqueness.  Master orders him to hold the White Snake so he can sacrifice her.  In the ensuing struggle, the Monk releases the snake and his Master is stabbed.

Composed by Schott Wheeler
Conducted by Carolyn Kuan

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