The libretto's fine and music's powerful.
Karl Henzy | 09/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's silly to suggest that other critics would not attack Marco Polo just because the libretto was written by Paul Griffiths. Ever see Siskel and Ebert attack each other's views? In fact, Griffith's libretto may not be a great work of literature, but great works of literature don't always make for the best librettos, since the text ends up competing with the music. Griffith's libretto is a perfect vehicle for Tan's powerful music, negotiating its way quite brilliantly between East and West, ancient and modern. Why is "complexity" such a dirty word for some of these people? Simple diatonic melodies, repeated endlessly by minimalist composers, or worse, warmed over romanticism or classicism, just can't communicate the full drama of some experiences (such as Tan's rich sense of the ambiguities in both Eastern and Western sensibilities and values)."
Visceral, powerful--one of the best operas of the century.
Karl Henzy | 01/08/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Look: this is one powerful work. Be ready to be in a state of amazement from beginning to end. Tan is only 40 (born in '59), so it's hard to imagine how he'll to follow up this masterpiece. With Wolfgang Rihm's Conquest of Mexico, it's one of the two best operas since Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre. I'm trying to think of how to describe the music, and it just seems impossible to convey. A blend of Eastern and Western--but that doesn't begin to convey the work's moments of visceral power or strange beauty. Get this and enjoy."
WORTHLESS MUSICAL DRIVEL
Alfredo R. Villanueva | New York, NY United States | 06/03/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I RARELY TAKE A RECORD OFF BEFORE I HAVE HEARD IT IN ITS ENTIRETY, BUT I MUST SAY I WAS TOTALLY TURNED OFF BY TAN DUN'S PRETENTIOUS, UNMELODIC SCORE AS WELL AS BY THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE LIBRETTO. THIS COMPOSER SHOULD STICK TO MOVIE MUSIC, FOR WHICH HE IS SO MUCH BETTER SUITED. THE ONE OPERA? IN MY COLLECTION I AM SURE NEVER TO PLAY AGAIN!"