Work in Development
New York City in a parallel universe, the Zodiac Animals rules the human world headed by the Rat. As human rebellion arises, a war widow falls in love with a demented woman who unknowingly carries her late husband’s spirit.
Deer-cry, Lyric Soprano – the wife/the war widow
Pine, Lyric Baritone – the deceased husband/ghost
North-wind, Mezzo-soprano – the demented woman.
12 Zodiac Animals, 12 townspeople, SATB
Fl, Cl, Bsn, Hn, Tpt, Trbn, Tba, 3 Perc, Keyboard soloist: Hpsd/Cel/Pno, Strings.
Pine (the husband) and Deer-cry (the wife) sing together over a dying newborn. The “healing duet” causes the newborn to take his first breath. Rebels call them to heal a fallen villager. Pine gets there first but Deer-cry (because of a girlish flaw) doesn’t. Pine waits for her but is arrested by the Rat’s troops (“If you aid rebels, you are a rebel.”)
Pine at the execution post. Deer-cry is still late but on her way. Pine yearns for one last look at her. He sings the magical “healing duet” and his voice travels across the land to Deer-cry, who is only a few city blocks away. She answers her part in the duet across the city blocks not knowing this is her husband’s last utterance. Suddenly Pine’s part stops as the executioner behead him. Deer-cry repeats the same phrase mid-song, puzzled that Pine doesn’t answer. At that moment, she arrives at the execution post and sees Pine’s head detached from his torso. She lets out a horrified scream.
As Pine’s corpse is being burned with the other dead rebels, Deer-cry contemplates jumping on the pyre. But she lacks the courage to kill herself.
Deer-cry wanders, yearning for Pine. Pine (in ghostly form) floats around and continues singing the duet that they couldn’t finish before. But Deer-cry can’t hear him. The duet is suddenly complete when Pine embodies a demented woman, North-wind.
Deer-cry recognizes that North-wind is her Pine in a new form. They decide to live in hiding.
The hiding is successful until years later, a new rebellion arises, led by the baby we saw in the opening. The baby-leader is wounded in battle. Will Deer-cry and North-wind come out to save him or will they stay in hiding and let him die? They choose to save the baby-leader and are caught by the Rat’s troopers.
The Rat executes Deer-cry. As the Rat turns to execute North-wind, she changes shape and literally becomes a blast of wind from the North, vanishing before the astonished villagers and animals. Deer-cry reunites with Pine in the Underworld.
"Only through singing can the heroine discover her dead husband's spirit reincarnated."
- Wang Jie
an opera in four scenes
art work by Liu Yuanshou