Originally commissioned by the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia. Completion co-commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects and HERE. World Premiere co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects, HERE, and Trinity Wall Street. The world premiere was supported, in part, by public funds from The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
2017 Pulitzer Prize in Music
Have you ever walked the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia? The girls wave at you, smile coyly and offer you things in simple English that make you blush. The girls (sometimes a boy or two) look like little animals, bright eyes and jet-black hair. They are half human, half animal — operating on instinct. You may say that you have never been there and that this story sounds too exotic?
Alternatively, I suppose you live closer to New Jersey or New York? Both areas have a huge trafficking phenomenon. Jackson Heights, Queens has been an epicenter for human trafficking in NYC and New Jersey. The United Nations cites there are between 27 and 30 million modern-day slaves in the world, while the US. State Department cites that 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across borders every year, and UNICEF reports that across the world, there are over one million children entering the sex trade every year.
But what about the middlemen, the pimps; who are they? Their stories come in many shapes and forms. Why? How? Why do they make the choices they make? Greed? Conviction? Desire? Lust?
Art does not solve problems. Art, at its best, functions to provoke and suggest. When we choose to have our characters sing, we tackle a phenomenon: we too, can be any of these people — angels or not, middleman or not.
— Du Yun
MRS. X.E.: Dramatic Soprano or Mezzo-soprano
MR. X.E.: Baritone. Should have a powerful range, and also sing cabaret-style
BOY ANGEL: Lyric Tenor. Should have a very wide range; low register can be mostly sung with sound effect
GIRL ANGEL: Female Voice (preferably with a punk sensibility). Should be a voice that can carry out a punk song, who also coocoos well
MAN ON TV: Male Voice from the choir
THE FEMALE CUSTOMER: Mezzo-soprano from the choir
CUSTOMERS: from the choir
NEIGHBORS: from the choir
TV HOST: from the choir
Mixed Choir: at least 8 singers and a conductor.
Angel'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. 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 and decide to exploit these magical beings for wealth and personal gains. Angel's Bone melds chamber music, theatre, punk rock, opera, cabaret, and electronics, exploring the dark effects and motivations behind modern-day slavery and the trafficking industry.