Sterna Paradisaea, Returning…

-- Chamber opera, for mezzo-soprano, ensemble and electronic sounds

World premiere: Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, November 2014, UK

NMC Recordings, Next Wave Album

Upon the sudden death of her father and after a long absence, a woman scarred by a traumatic childhood returns to her home in a mountainous village in Southwest China. Sterna Paradisaea, Returning… follows the seven-week long Chinese death ceremony as the woman communicates with her father’s spirit. 

The woman must cope with her family’s demands and the pressures of culturally enforced gender roles. Her ultimate struggle is the search for home, filial love, and forgiveness. 

“ Why did I choose to leave this perfect place? The only home I have ever known...” 

Sterna Paradisaea, Returning… is the second act of a large-scale transmedia opera project. Scored for eleven performers and electronics, the second act employs one singer to bring the unique gift of words that enriches the collaboration and intimacy of chamber music. The voice is composed of three characters, denoting the inner and outer conflict as well as “speaking” hidden emotions and love. 

The electronic part of the piece interprets Nuó drama (nuóxì), an ancient Chinese mask folk opera, which is a patterned step to drive away the devil during the last month of the Chinese lunar New Year.

Performed by the London Sinfonietta, featuring mezzo-soprano Lore Lixenberg and pianist Sarah Nicolls, Sterna Paradisaea, Returning… is conducted by Garry Walker and recorded by David Lefeber from NMC recordings. This piece has received tremendous support from Sound and Music, composers Richard Baker and Simon Emmerson. 

In memory of my father, 金志强 (10.Feb.1954 – 02.Feb.2013)

Sterna Paradisaea, Returning… is nominated for the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards (long list), Large-Scale Composition, 2015

Tags: Mixed, Ensemble/Orchestra