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Short opera for soprano and baritone

A satiric/comedic short opera for soprano, baritone and chamber orchestra

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Posted on October 29, 2018 by Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra

Video of performance. 

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Posted on October 29, 2018 by Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra

In the spring of 2017 NYC composer Wang Jie and librettist Zhu Yi visited Minnesota’s only prison for women in Shakopee. They gathered the women’s stories as basis for this 18 minute chamber opera – presented by the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra on July 20, 2017 directed by Warren Friesen. In the two roles of inmate and jailer were Vicki Fingalson, soprano and Jeffrey Madison, baritone. Also participating were two choruses: a “speaking chorus” of nine children from Duluth and a taped chorus of 11 women, recorded at the Shakopee prison.

It Rained On Shakopee

Posted on October 29, 2018 by Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra

The opera project took a huge turn when the composer, Wang Jie, won a major grant from the McKnight Foundation. The grant proposal required a significant collaboration with a community in the state of Minnesota. Already interested in music within the prison system, Wang Jie, decided to partner with the Shakopee Correctional Facility – the state’s only prison for women. The prison authorities agreed to the proposal. The plan was to do several workshops with inmate volunteers, to write a libretto drawn from their stories. Writer  Zhu Yi was enlisted in the project as librettist. 


In the summer of 2016, in celebration of its 30th season, the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra will premiere four works commissioned American composers. One of the works will be a short opera by New York composer Wang Jie. Though of limited duration – 10 to 15 minutes – the opera will have a complete narrative arch: introduction, conflict, denouement. The composer’s initial suggestions:  “I imagine a satiric comedy about a couple who can’t get along. They argue about toilet seats, snoring, the kind of stuff every married couple knows about. But at some point, prompted by the couple’s love, the argument shifts into loving flirtation and passionate kisses by the end.”

Vocalists for the premiere will be soprano Vicki Fingalson and baritone Jeffrey Madison.  The fact that the singers have already committed to this project enables Wang Jie to create a musical score uniquely adapted to their voices and characters. And the couple may take a more active role in the creative process than is often the case – perhaps even suggesting scenes from their own marriage.


Project Media

FROM THE OTHER SKY with Animated Supertitle: Scene I & II
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Features: Wang Jie

American Composers Orchestra led by George Manahan
Emily Hindrichs, Coloratura | Krysty Swann, Mezzo-soprano | Wang Jie, Keyboard

Wang Jie writes “FROM THE OTHER SKY is a multi-media concert opera/song cycle based on the my short story. When ACO asked that the new work reflect “Mystics and Magic”, I felt necessary to intensify this theme with an original narrative of the mystical and magical power of music.”

Flown, III – In Wind They Cleave
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Features: Wang Jie

FLOWN is a chamber opera in four acts which the composer describes as “an evening of playing and singing which meditates on two lovers who must part.” It is written for the same voice types (soprano and baritone) which will be employed in the chamber opera commissioned by the LSCO

Libretto by Steve Ross Smith. Produced and recorded live at Music-theatre Group, Feb. 12th 2009

Soprano: Mary Elizabeth Mackenzie
Baritone: Paul LaRosa
Violin: Jennifer Choi
Cello: Mary Wooten
Percussion: Matt Gold
Piano: Wang Jie

A Prayer – Lord? Please Don’t Let Me Die in a Funny Way, an album of vocal story-telling by Wang Jie
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Features: Wang Jie

This excerpt from an operatic mono-drama for soprano and chamber ensemble. Composed in 2014 it demonstrates the composers exquisite idiomatic writing for the female voice, her boundless sense of humor, her ability to create a variety of acoustic textures from slender instrumental forces.

Libretto by Paul Simms. Recorded live at Greenwich Music House, Nov. 18th 2013

Mary Mackenzie, soprano | Wang Jie, piano

Start and End Dates



Duluth, Minnesota

3 updates
Last update on October 29, 2018

Project Created By

Duluth, Minnesota
The Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra (LSCO) was founded in 1987 in Duluth, MN by Warren Friesen, who remains the organization’s Artistic Director and Conductor.  It is a professional ensemble (musicians paid per service)  which presents concerts almost exclusively during the summer months. Committed to diverse repertoire, the LSCO has four times in recent years received…

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