'Marco Polo' is an opera about journeys, and marks a further stage in the composer Tan Dun (now best known for his work on the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)'s own journey - an exploration of a new language of music and performing arts through the fusion of Western avant-garde style with Eastern accent. The spiritual journey - the cycle of the spirit and of Nature - coexists with a physical journey from West to East. The former is explored in 'The Book of Timespace' through the participation of Shadows, Memory and Nature, in Peking opera style. Interwoven are the legendary adventures of Marco Polo as he makes his journey from Italy to China. These sections are written in a more Western opera style combining avant-garde and theatrical traditions, and are played out by Beings, although with underlying echoes of the simultaneous spiritual journey provided by historical figures of Dante, Shakespeare, and Li Po.
Along with the geographical journey from West to East there is an important musical journey. Above the orchestra and chorus, there is a spicy ensemble of medieval European, Indian, Tibetan, and Chinese instruments which illustrate the changing scenes of the geographic journey. The fantasy-dream world of the spiritual journey and the exciting stories of Marco Polo's voyage are two operas that merge to the same goal, the discovery of experience from past to present to future - from the known to the unknown.
This is the Schirmer edition of the Libretto in English only, with a libretto by Paul Griffiths.