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Watch: Eerie Video for Shanghai-Born Composer Du Yun’s Pulitzer-Winning Opera

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This slipped under our radar at the time, but the 2017 Nobel Prize for Music, awarded last month, went to none other than Shanghai-born composer Du Yun for her one-act opera, Angel’s Bone. The piece was created in collaboration with librettist Royce Vavrek, and opened in January of last year. According to its official siteAngel’s Bone

follows the plight of two angels whose nostalgia for earthly delights has, mysteriously, brought them back to our world. They are found battered and bruised from their long journey by a man and his wife. The married couple is in the midst of a financial crisis, they seem to have grown far apart from one another in this marriage, and the unspoken aggression between them is palpable; nevertheless, Mr. and Mrs. X.E. set out to nurse the wounded angels back to health: they bathe them, wash the dirt from their nails… then lock them in a room, leaving them a claw foot bathtub for a shared bed, and decide to exploit these magical beings for wealth and personal gains.

A video accompaniment for part of the piece — directed by Brooklyn studio Spa Theory — was just released on YouTube, and quivers with a beautiful brutality appropriate to the opera’s subject matter:

Listen to the full composition — which the New York Times called “appallingly good” and the Pulitzer Committee called “a harrowing allegory for human trafficking in the modern world” — right here.

And if you want to learn more about Du Yun, this short interview is a good place to start:

Cover image: YouTube

Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a Shanghai-based writer and musician, and RADII's Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, Artsy, LEAP, Tiny Mix Tapes, and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.

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