Shangri-La is an exciting new modern opera
composed by groundbreaking composer and percussionist, Susie Ibarra
and award winning Pulitzer Prize poet, Yusef Komunyakaa. It has
inspired the creation of a musical language that both complements
and integrates western classical music, blues, Thai classical and
Thai folk music, as well as contemporary experimental techniques.
The musical language created is subtle and whole, yet co-exist playfully
in various forms.
In a setting hyped as being a paradise on earth, there are seven
main characters including John Wong (a Chinese man who calls himself
the Metaphysical Detective) and three American men (Wong calls his
Hypothetical Three), and three Thai women who periodically imitate
the Supremes in a venue called the Carousel Club. Two of the men
characters die: one commits suicide and the other expires ion an
overdose of Viagra. John's challenge is to save the remaining one
of the Hypothetical three. At the heart of Shangri-La are the conflicting
philosophies of Paradise.
Shangri-La is a story of Paradise and Hell, and how these states
can easily change and reverse. Set amidst the background of the
complex problem of the sex trade industry in South East Asia and
the AIDS epidemic. It is told from different points of views of
Thai women, Thai families, foreigners and visitors. Amidst this
backdrop is a subtlety of expression through music, poetry, lyricism
and the drama of a complex mystery and love story.