Critic’s Choice in Opera News Magazine

« A cracking good story and fascinating music… » – Paula Citron, Opera Canada

« …skillfully orchestrated score… » – Andrew Timar, The WholeNote

With this Dora Mavor Moore Award-winning opera, JUNO Award nominated composer Alice Ping Yee Ho created something that would blend Chinese, Baroque, and Western art forms while bringing legend and dance into a world of music and drama. Ho’s interest in Chinese ancient stories led to the famous concubine Da Ji of the Shang Dynasty and an invented tale of her forbidden love affair and the revenge of the jealous King Zhou. The Lesson of Da Ji brings together the European masque tradition and classical Peking opera in a vibrant and beautiful story written by librettist Marjorie Chan. The unique instrumentation of the accompanying ensemble has been chosen to showcase the expressive quality of Chinese instruments (pipa, zhongruan, guzheng, and erhu), the elegant sonority of Baroque instruments (lute, recorders, harpsichord, bass viol), the lush Western strings as well as the dramatic use of percussion instruments.
This project was commissioned by Toronto Masque Theatre in 2012, with the help of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council.

The Lesson of Da Ji
By Alice Ping Yee Ho (composer) and Marjorie Chan (librettist)
Toronto Masque Theatre
Larry Beckwith, Conductor

1 Scene One: The Lesson 37:05
2 Scene Two: The Banquet 25:36


« Ho’s musical launguage is a startlingly original three-way mélange of Baroque, traditional Chinese and contemporary Western idioms. Rhythmic energy and fresh, exotic instrumental colours spill from every bar in Ho’s expertly deployed mashup of instruments from different cultures […] The ten expert instrumentalists of the Toronto Masque Theatre Ensemble play with galvanizing virtuosity under the clear-eyed and idiomatically versatile leadership of conductor Larry Beckwith. » – Joshua Rosenblum, « Critic’s Choice » in Opera News Magazine