Commissioned by the BBC for premiere by Kent Opera
Thirteenth-century China: Chao Sun, explorer and mapmaker, leaves his city of Loyan for exile. His son Chao Lin is charged with the construction of a canal. Some actors are among his workers. The night before departure they enact The Chao Family Orphan. In the play, the wicked General Tu-an-Ku provokes the suicide of his servant Chao and his wife, leaving their young son an orphan. Unwittingly, the General adopts and raises the child. Twenty years later they conspire to overthrow the emperor. The orphan discovers his identity through a friend of his parents and vows revenge. After the play, Chao Lin’s work on the canal is acclaimed. While surveying, Chao encounters an old woman who tells of his father’s fate. Chao immediately plots revenge.
© Judith Weir