The Monkiest King
A Chinese-Canadian Opera
Format: Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: June 5, 2020
The Monkey King is the leading super hero in the 16th-century famous Chinese novel “Journey to the West.” Over the centuries, the tale has become one of the most popular comic stories. It is about a mischievous yet determined mythological being who rises from humble origin to become a great protector of humanity.
Commissioned by the Canadian Children’s Opera Company to celebrate the Company’s 50th Anniversary in 2018, The Monkiest King is the first Chinese-Canadian children’s opera composed by two-time JUNO nominee Alice Ping Yee Ho.
This 60-minute one-act opera is a creative new retelling of the famous mythical Song Dynasty character Monkey King, Sun WuKong, as he matures through his adventures as a young super-powered monkey and learns about chivalry, gallantry, and compassion.
Librettist Marjorie Chan has created a fantastic story that covers ten colorful scenes happening in an ancient magical world, with the exception of a prologue and epilogue that takes place in modern day Toronto. The opera is written especially to the showcase the talents of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company under the musical direction of Teri Dunn. The combination of Chinese and Western instruments instigates an exotic sound world that depicts both the past and present, life and dream. The opera also explores the dramatic and expressive use of languages: though primarily sung in English, the opera includes songs in Mandarin that reflect the poetic side and spiritual philosophy of ancient Chinese culture. The occasional injection of Mandarin words and Cantonese slang highlight the authenticity of Chinese folk culture.
This unique cross cultural children’s opera has pushed the boundary of Western opera tradition with astounding success including 4 sold out premiere productions at the Lyric Theatre (Toronto Centre for The Arts) in May 2018, and was nominated for two Mavor Dora Moore Awards in 2019 for “Outstanding Performing Ensemble” and “Outstanding Original Opera”.
This recording is made through the generous support of FACTOR, Toronto Arts Council, and Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Canadian Children’s Opera Company under the direction of Music Director Teri Dunn.