Wang Jie





Scene I – The Extravagant Zodiac Palace

Thirteen Zodiac Animals (in the order of Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig, and Lark) live in their extravagant palace above the sky. From this remote distance, twelve of the animals install personalities in human newborns. The exception is the Lark, whose sole responsibility is to revere the Rat and entertain her fellow Zodiacs with music.
The Lark performs highly virtuosic and entertaining repertoire, which pleases The Rat and his fellow Zodiacs. But The Rat hasn’t been so pleased lately, because there have been fewer and fewer newborns. The lack of business has put the Zodiac gods to devastation. One day, the Rat summons the Lark to fly down to the human world and check out why.

Scene II – The Plague-driven Human World

Once there, the Lark discovers that a plague has broken out amongst the mankind. She then hears the voice of a crippled woman selling baby shoes that have never been worn. This song full of pain captures the Lark. She mimics the woman in order to learn the song. As she spends more time learning the sad song, her singing is now fueled by great compassion and deep soul. As her musical voice ma-tures, her song miraculously heals the crippled woman and we see life installed in her renewed body. Shortly after she gains health, we see her enchanted by the Lark's singing and she falls in love with another human.

Scene III – Back to the Zodiac Palace

Upon the Lark’s return to the palace, she reports the devastation to the Rat. The Rat and his fellows are morose about how the business has suffered but generally indifferent to the devastation in the human world. Instead, he persuades her to sing and entertain.
The Lark is at first singing her old routine. Little does she know, her singing is now gravitated towards the human song. This catches the Rat’s attention: the Lark is not singing the music he likes to hear. “Too few notes”, complains the Rat.
The Rat and the Rooster now both noticed that she has been contaminated by the human world which is literally and figuratively beneath them. The Rat fires the Lark.

Postlude – Human World, Healed by Lark’s Singing

The dark horror that was left from the plague has dissolved since the Lark’s descend. Miracles of healing has taken place and humans begin new life.
This is how we are left with only twelve Zodiacs animals.

Commissioned by Paul Underwood and American Composers Orchestra (Oct 2010)