Lotus Lives, a chamber opera

Co-presented by UB Center for the Arts & UB Dept. of Music

February 3, 2024
7:30 p.m.

Center for the Arts
Drama Theatre

Tickets: $30

$5 off for UB students, employees, and alumni at the UBCFA ticket office

opera singers performing on stage holding hands.

Scored for two singers with brass ensemble, Lotus Lives tells the story of a Chinese American woman exploring her heritage through a fascinating juxtaposition of chronologies. The on-screen and shifting panorama of singers, dancers, instrumentalists, and shadow puppetry, both live and prerecorded. The music blends contemporary styles with rap, Chinese folk music, and dance-club music into an exuberant romp accompanied by a dazzling display of electronics.

Lotus Synopsis
Lotus Lives explores the journey of Lily, granddaughter of Chinese immigrants, imprisoned in the straitjacket of a strict and alienating education, trying to discover her identity through the groundbreaking feminist aspirations of her grandmother. The story unfolds like the lotus flower after which the opera is named, simultaneously on-screen and on-stage, in a shifting panorama of singers, instrumentalists, video projections and puppet theater. Musically, the opera acts as a laboratory where numerous styles meet, incorporating among others slam poetry, traditional Chinese music and pop music, each treated in a lyrical and operatic style. A colorful, rhythmic and feminist work, Lotus Lives is an ode to generations of rebel women.

"Lotus Lives is a chamber opera, for two voices and brass ensemble, that brings a fascinating juxtaposition of chronologies, an exploration of themes of growth and discovery, and the crossing and interpenetration of cultures, all accompanied by a dazzling display of electronic staging."
— Nicholas Clifford, Middlebury College

"..about Lotus Lives by Su Lian Tan. The subject of a Chinese American woman exploring her heritage was very compelling. I also thought this was a beautiful production, and I especially responded to the video/projection design and the way the show played with shadow puppetry. The piece (and Tan herself) feels so ambitious, and I'm glad she's been brought to my attention."
— Oskar Eustis, artistic director, Public Theater, NYC

About the Production

portait of su lian tan.

Music by Su Lian Tan

Su Lian Tan is a much sought after flutist and composer. Her music has been described as “the stunner of the evening,” (Washington Post) and “…refined, cultured compositions… Rewarding for everyone... a must own” (Fanfare).

ann babson smiling.

Libretto by Anne Babson

tim bartlett working at a video board.

Visual Projections by Tim Bartlett

Tim Bartlett shoots, assembles, and projects moving images, with a background in documentary film and experimental video art.

nathan troup sitting on stage smiling.

Direction by Nathan Troup

American director/designer/producer Nathan Troup maintains a body of work spanning standard operatic repertoire, new work premieres, uniquely curated site-specific projects, gala events, and distinct collaborations with multidisciplinary artists.

evan bennett conducting ensemble on stage.

Evan Bennett, conductor

Evan Bennett received extensive musical training as a conductor, composer, oboist, and pianist, winning national awards in composition and as a solo oboist.

portait of rachel calloway.

Rachel Calloway, voice

Rachel Calloway brings versatility and compelling insight to stages worldwide. Her work has been praised by the New York Times for “penetrating clarity” and “considerable depth of expression” and by Opera News for her “adept musicianship and dramatic flair.”

tiffany dumouchelle posing with hand on hip under a highway overpass.

Tiffany DuMouchelle, voice

Tiffany Du Mouchelle is praised for her musical versatility, an electric stage presence and exceptional dramatic sensibilities. Most recognized for her fearlessness in exploring new and challenging repertoire, she ushers the voice into new realms of expressivity, including a vast array of musical styles and languages.

meridian arts ensemble posing with instruments on stage.

Meridian Arts Ensemble

A quintet comprised of five brass players, Jon Nelson (trumpet), Mathew Onstad (trumpet), Daniel Grabois (Horn), Faustino Diaz Mendes (trombone) and Tom Curry (Tuba), is one of America’s leading brass group exploring the music of today. The MAE will be joined my UB Professor of Percussion Tom Kolor.