(Hopefully) Happily Ever After – Lan Tung (2012)

- solo improviser (voice) & chamber orchestra or intercultural orchestra or Chinese orchestra

“….the prince and princess get married, and they live happily ever after”. Does the story really end there? This piece draws materials from a famous Cantonese opera excerpt “The Emperor’s Daughter” to create a ghostly graphic score. Unwilling to live under the ruling of the invading Manchurian, the beautiful princess and her husband committed suicide on their wedding night. This piece portraits the couple’s final moments. It was premiered by the Atlas Ensemble in Amsterdam in 2012 and has since been performed by Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Proliferasian, Taiwan’s Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra with Amsterdam’s Nieuw Ensemble, and Upstream Ensemble (Halifax).

《從此過著幸福快樂的日子嗎?》,融合廣東大戲、爵士樂、現代音樂元素,為三人以上即興演奏家所作,不限樂器編制,即興部分為圖像記譜。同年改編為即興演奏家與大型樂隊協奏曲,由阿姆斯特丹Atlas樂團首演,溫哥華交響樂團、小巨人絲竹樂團、 Proliferasian在加拿大及台灣多次演出。

chamber ensemble version performed by Proliferasian

The text is directly taken from the Cantonese opera 帝女花-香夭
The spoken text is the opening intro in the original opera:
倚殿阴森奇树双,at a ghostly night, a pair of strangely entwined trees lean against the palace
明珠万颗映花黄。millions of stars shine upon the flowers
如此断肠花烛夜,such a heart-aching wedding night
不须侍女伴身旁。no need for the accompaniment of the servants.
At this point on stage, the other actors exit, leaving the couple alone. 
traditionally, Chinese opera is very abstract.
It does not use lighting changes nor elaborate props on stage.
The actors usually describe the environment in the beginning of the opera, so the audience uses their imagination to enter the story with the characters.
The second set of text to be sung:
落花满天蔽月光,Falling flower petals obscure the moonlight 
借一杯附荐凤台上。 Offering a cup of wine at the altar 
帝女花带泪上香,With tears, the emperor’s daughter burns the incense 
愿丧生回谢爹娘。Wishing to die to honour the royal family
(worshipping ceremonies for the ancestors include offering the wine and burning the incense)
鸳鸯侣相偎傍,Two love birds cuddle together
泉台上再设新房,Rebuild the bridal chamber at the “nine springs” (in the under world)
地府阴司里再觅那平阳巷。Seek a regular family to be burn at in the next life
(In this life their destiny is set because she was burn in a royal family. Next life, they want to be free and to be together like the peasants).