Wang Jie




Sample Libretto 

First Scene

A routine day at the Zodiac Palace. We find out through the Lark that new-borns have hit record low in the human world. The Rat sends the Lark down to find out why.

A few seconds of instrumental prelude, the Lark flies into the scene. She is delighted to see the extravagant food spread.

(off stage) YO! (On stage)Yoo-Hoo!
Peach, apples, pineapples;
Fat duck, crispy nut, lots of luck!
If you think
the Zodiac Palace is a fabulous place,
You’ve got it right!
No need to worship East,
If all you see is feast!
Endlessly mindless till the end of the mind!

If you think
Fabulous Gods toil at this place,
Think again!
Check out who’s the boss!

The Rat (the immensely obese and ugly rat, the head of the Zodiac Gods) marches onto the stage. He is accompanied by the Rooster who’s the Prime Minister.  Hardly does the Rooster sit him down, the Lark springs up to welcome the rat and performs her routine. Highly virtuosic music pierces our ears-drums.

Long live the Rat!
65 degrees Sunny as always.
New-borns’ hit record low. Collapse!
Business worsens worse than ever.
But we’ve got nothing to worry about.
For the Rat is always right!

The Rat is obviously unhappy about the bad business. He stops the Lark and the music as the Rooster takes attendance.

The pianist snores into the microphone.
An orchestra member lifts a sign that says “Pedicure”
The Pianist solos Hard-Rock music on the Harpsichord, while another orchestra member lifts a sign that says “Pilate”.
Ugh - - - - (very long sigh)

[THE ROOSTER] continues
Rabbit -
Harpsichord music continues with mysterious motives, while orchestra members lift signs that spells out as “Ya know... ...”

[THE RAT] pounds the table angrily
But he soon turns morose and summons the music as if recovering from a bad hang over.
Ugh. Music, music!

As the Lark repeats the song, the Rooster takes out a sign also. It says “Bailout Plan!” The Rat pretends to think about it. But both of them looks at the Lark and an idea pops up. The Rat whispers something to the rooster.

Long live the Rat!
Rat, rat! Go Rat!
Long live the Rat!
New-borns’ hit record low.
Business worsens worse than ever.
But we’ve got nothing to worry about.
For the Rat is always right!

Everybody applauds the Lark’s wonderful per-formance. As the instrumental music continues, the Rooster whispers the order that the Lark has been sent to the human world to find out what’s causing the bad business.

Down to the human world I shall go!
Mission possible!
Here I go.
As if forgetting something, rush back to stage
Long live the Rat!

End of First Scene

Instrumental Interlude & Second Scene

Instrumental music portrays a contrasting world from the Zodiac Palace. The Lark learns a sad song from a crippled woman.

For sale!
Baby shoes,
Never worn.
The Lark sees that a plague has taken over the human race. She is rather nauseated.
Sweet (is) a Mother’s face
In the light of her (a?) baby’s voice
Until that heartbeat is taken.
The sad song from the crippled woman cap-tures the Lark.

Baby shoes,
For sale!

Fragrant a lover’s trace,
In the gleam of her lips,
Until the pulse is broken.

Earth frozen
Sky shut
The lips of a faded life
Pale, grey, frosted
Little arms forever folded

For sale!
Baby shoes,
For sale!

The deserts moan.
Moaning for the bones thrown,
Each now but a grain of sand.
Forever. Forgotten.

As the Lark learns her song from the crippled woman, a Grim Reaper shows up on the stage (actor). He walks by the crippled but she didn't smell ready for him. He walks around the musi-cians and fishes the bassoon player out of the orchestra instead.
As he walks pass the duet the second time, the Lark has learned the song and her voice stuns him. He lost interest in the bassoon player and pardons him.
So the bassoon player goes back to the orches-tra. The Grim Reaper become the Lark's big-gest fan and follows her around like a groupie. At the end of the scene, the Crippled Woman heals from the Lark’s beautiful music. She throws away her walkers. As the Lark finishes the song, the Grim Reaper has fallen madly in love with the once Crippled Woman. 

Third Scene

The Lark returns to the Zodiac Palace with the tragic news about the plague. The Rat discovers that she is no longer capable of singing music that pleases his taste. The Lark is deemed “Contaminated” and let go to the human world forever.

Plague! (off stage) A plague has risen! (On stage)
Men are not mating.
No one is interested in mating.
A teacher’s voice, as if explaining sex for the first time in high school Health Class.
No mating, no babies!
No men are interested in mating.
Some are busy digging.
Some are busy burning.
Some are busy dying.
No mating, no babies!

[THE RAT] Interrupts angrily
Enough, enough! Unacceptable!
But he soon turns morose and summons the music
Ugh. Music, music!

Long live the Rat!
Sixty five degrees sunny as always.
Plague or no plague,
We’ve got nothing to worry about.
For the Rat is always right!

Plague or no plague,
Pulse or no pulse,
Riven, Stricken, frozen, broken, taken, fallen. forgotten!
As the Lark slips into the song she learned from the crippled woman, the Rooster and the Rat both sense that something has changed about her.
A moaning desert weeps alone.
Moans for the bones thrown,
Each now but a grain of sand.

The Lark finishes the song, orchestra members lift signs with scores: “10! 9.5! -1! 8! Bravo! Sucks!” The Rat whispers to the Rooster. Rooster replicates a scene from Amadeus.

[THE RAT] Interrupts by pounding the table
Eh, too few notes.

The Rat calls for the Rooster and whispers to him.

[THE ROOSTER] Announces
You are contaminated.
Suddenly realizes the word “contaminated” and grossed out
Contaminated? Ewww!!

The Rat whispers to the Rooster again. And this time, Rooster clears his throat and imitates Donald Trump:

You are fired!

You, you, you, you…….and you!
She points at the Rat, Rooster, the Conductor, the Monkey, the Concert Master
All of you, animals, are deaf!
She composes herself again
That's Fine!


Now that the Lark sings for the Humans, they are quickly recovering from the plague.

The once crippled woman is dressed in festive style, standing next to the once Grim Reaper. She is holding their baby.

Eat, drink, man, woman,
Live, Mate, oh, lots of babies.
The Hell with the Rat!

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