I Will Stay Here

I spend so much of my time in Chinatown shopping for groceries that it’s often hard to remember that this hurly-burly of shops and restaurants is also still a large residential neighborhood filled with a zillion personal stories. Chinese-American composer and jazz violinist Jason Kao Hwang has teamed up with librettist Catherine Filloux to fashion an opera out of one family’s legacy whose east-west musical synthesis is as complex as that of many immigrant families from East Asia. Singers mostly coming out of western operatic training are accompanied by an eight piece ensemble mixing traditional Chinese instruments with western sonorities such as accordion, clarinet and percussion which sound more east than west in this context. While in an opera, the singers are usually the focus, the stars for me are Min Xiao Fen’s pipa and Wang Guowei’s assorted two-string fiddles which are rarely far away from center stage.

—FJO

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