Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas

by Byron Au Yong

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about

Adventurous contemporary operatic performances with water percussion prompted by the 易經 I Ching (Book of Changes).

Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas was performed in 64 waterways as part of 4Culture's Site-Specific Performance Network and the Bumbershoot Festival of the Arts (2008). A Sound/Light Installation with four-channel audio and 104 animated LED lights was created in collaboration with artist Randy Moss for the Jack Straw New Media Gallery (2008). Excerpts performed at Town Hall Seattle (2010) and the Seattle Symphony Garden of Remembrance (2011).

credits

released January 27, 2009

Music by Byron Au Yong
Libretti by Eugenie Chan, Bret Fetzer, Aaron Jafferis, Archana Kumar, Carola Luther, Caroline Murphy, Vivian Umino, and Edisa Weeks

Vocalists include Josie Davis, Emily Greenleaf, Jeremiah Oliver, David Stutz with percussionists include Stuart McLeod, Dean Moore, Benjamin Morrow, James Whetzel

Audio Engineer Tom Stiles
Jack Straw Productions | Seattle

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Byron Au Yong San Francisco, California

Byron Au Yong composes songs of dislocation, music for a changing world.

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Track Name: Hello Helicopter
Hello Helicopter (Bottled Opera No. 07)
師 Shī ¦¦¦¦|¦

Hello Helicopter Helicopter Helicopter.
Everyone yell “Helicopter” chop chop wave wave.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-chopping through the sky
above an Indian Ocean island
laid waste by a ten-foot wave wave.
We are in a helicopter looking for life
in the flood-muddy land below low.
Miracle: a lone and naked person
looks up and lifts a hand, as if to say “Hello.”

Hello Helicopter Helicopter Helicopter
Hello Hello Helicopter chop chop wave wave.

Ch-ch-chopchop closer to the wave wave man
and we see he’s not waving. No, no.
He pulls a string back and lets an arrow fly
with the force of his great wooden bow bow.
But we know the metal of our chop chop chop
will split the arrow’s shaft in half half,
so we turn our video camera on the scene
and have a helicopter belly laugh laugh:

We are in a helicopter helicopter helicopter.
Can’t stop heli-helicopter chop chop chop chop wave wave.

Arrow whims up, kima doms in,
and the man with the bow poddles duba grin.
We know fubu sah what he knew from the start:
the helicopter is our great metallic heart
blades beating chop chop, bleeding gasoline.
Arrow cleaves a question deep in the machine:

Mister Helicopter Helicopter Helicopter
must you always ch-ch-chop chop wave wave?
Mister Helicopter Helicopter Helicopter
kill the people who you came to save?
Helicopter Helicopter ch-ch-ch-ch
ch-ch-ch-ch ch-ch-ch-ch ch-ch-ch-ch
Wave.
Track Name: Lawn Sprinkler
Lawn Sprinkler (Bottled Opera No. 18)
蠱 Gǔ |¦¦||¦

Sa sasasa sa Suí
Sa sasasa sa Suí
Sa Suíh
Shoop shoop shoop…

Lawn sprinkler Little girl Dry spot.

Sa sasasa sa Suí
Sa sasasa sa Suí

Lawn sprinkler Little girl
Cartwheel
Dry spot

Sa sasasa sa Suí
Sa sasasa sa Suí

Lawn sprinkler Little girl
Flower Cartwheel
Hose

Sa sasasa sa Suí
Sa sasasa sa Suí

Sa sasasa sa Suí
Sa sasasa sa Suí
Shoop shoop shoop…

Lawn sprinkler Little girl
Red skirt

Sa sasasa sa Suí
Sa sasasa sa Suí

Lawn sprinkler Little girl
Lipstick Red skirt

Sa sasasa sa Suí
Sa sasasa sa Suí

Lawn sprinkler Little girl
Lipstick Red skirt
High heels Hose

Sa sasasa sa Suí
Sa sasasa sa Suí
Shoop shoop shoop…
Track Name: Puckered Skin
Puckered Skin (Bottled Opera No. 37)
家人 Jiā Rén ||¦|¦|

Mama’s got a swimming pool but she don’t let Daddy swim.
Mama’s got a swimming pool but she don’t let Daddy swim.
Till Daddy puts his swim suit on she ain’t gonna let Daddy in.

Mama’s got a diving board but she don’t let Daddy dive.
Mama’s got a diving board but she don’t let Daddy dive.
Ain’t done a single belly flop while Mama, she’s done four or five.

Mama’s got a sauna but she ain’t gonna let Daddy sweat.
Mama’s got a sauna but she ain’t gonna let Daddy sweat.
He can play in the sun but that’s all the heat he’s gonna get.

* * *

Puckered skin.
Missing teeth.
Shrieking kids.
Here eyes are talking have you heard?
She wants to taste your salty tongue.

Inner tubes.
Water wings.
Kings and queens.
These summer days feel incomplete
without your fingers underneath.

Mama wants to hear her Daddy sing.
Mama wants to hear her Daddy sing.
Track Name: Plish
Plish (Bottled Opera No. 36)
明夷 Míng Yí ¦¦¦|¦|

My neighbor’s sprinkler head goes
plish plish plish plish…
The voice on the radio warns me:
they will rise up and destroy us.
The voice on the radio reveals:
they poison our water with more water.

The voice on the radio speaks clearly:
we can’t wait any longer.
Can’t wait any longer.
Can’t wait.
We can’t.
Can’t.

I come out of the garage.
He’s ripping through the soft dark brown
of his flower garden
with a gleaming trowel.
He squints up at me and
wants to ask why I’m holding
a lawn mower blade in my gloved hands.

This won’t get any easier
so I won’t wait: ah.
We can’t wait any longer.
Can’t wait any longer.
Can’t wait.
We can’t.
Can’t.

My arm is numb, my hands stiff.
I can’t open my fingers.
Gloves are wet and sticky.
I shouldn’t have worn a white shirt.
I shouldn’t have worn these blue pants.

And the sprinkler head goes
plish plish plish red
plish plish white shirt
plish plish plish blue pants
plish plish plish plish plish plish red…
Track Name: I Float
I Float (Bottled Opera No. 34)
大壯 Dà zhuàng ¦¦||||

I and my goes I release with and a a I and we and for and the the…
Goes I release with and a a I and we and for and the the the good rise.

float…float…float…
bob…bob…bob…
heart…heart…heart…
throb…throb…throb…
sing…sing…re-
lease…lease…lease…
dread…dread…dread…
peace…peace…peace…

I and my goes I release with and a a I and we and for and the the…
Goes I release with and a a I and we and for and the the the good rise.

breath…breath…breath…
sigh…sigh…sigh…
laugh…laugh…laugh…
cry…cry…cry…
come…come…and…
go…go…for-
get…get…and…
know…know…know…

I and my goes I release with and a a I and we and for and the the…
Goes I release with and a a I and we and for and the the the good rise.

sun…sun…sun…
sky…sky…sky…
wave…wave…good-
bye…bye…bye…
up…up…de-
scend…send…send…
to…to…an…
end…end…end…