Orchestral Theatre III: Red Forecast | Tan Dun | 45 min
Red Forecast, a 45-minute multimedia work for soprano, orchestra, video, and taped audio news, is the third and final segment of Tan Dun’s Orchestral Theatre series (1990-96). Together, these works not only address philosophical issues but present an overview of Tan’s life. (As the year 1996 marks the tenth anniversary of Tan’s arrival in the West, perhaps it is understandable that the completed Orchestral Theatre trilogy has taken a retrospective turn. The idea of “journey,” a potent metaphor for Tan, is also the leitmotif of his other major work from 1996, the opera Marco Polo.) Orchestral Theatre I: Xun (1990), commissioned by the BBC for the Edinburgh International Festival, evokes a Chinese village celebration through the use of ethnic instruments and vocalizations; Orchestral Theatre II: Re (1993), a “ritual of sound, space, and silence” commissioned by Suntory Hall in Japan, employs chanting to simulate an imaginary Tibetan spiritual ceremony. Red Forecast: Orchestral Theatre III(1996), cloaked in a Western, pop-tinged score, mulls over existential questions: Where has humanity come from? Where and how far are we going? How will things end? Two worlds collide in the completed Orchestral Theatre cycle: East and West, the primitive/shamanistic and contemporary/urban, the spiritual and secular. These worlds — Tan’s past and present — interact with each other like chemical reactions, the resulting mix providing the key to his future.