Along the Roaring River: My Wild Ride from Mao to the Met

Hao Jiang Tian, Author, Lois B. Morris, With, Robert Lipsyte, Foreword by with Lois B. Morris, foreword by Robert Lipsyte. Wiley $27.95 (322p) ISBN 978-0-470-05641-7

Together with Morris, a New York Times music writer, celebrated operatic bass Hao Jiang Tian tells the colorful story of how he became the first world-class Western opera singer from China. In Beijing, separated from his parents (both military officer/musicians whose Communist loyalties were under suspicion), Tian chafed against the artistic restrictions of China’s Cultural Revolution. “Everything natural became unnatural,” he writes. Tian is 20 before he discovers his singing voice, and he is 30—having played accordion, studied Verdi and attended an American college on scholarship—by the time he sings at the Metropolitan Opera in 1991. Tian’s adventures are driven by pluck, yuan (fate) and romance, and spun with a raconteur’s skill, the narrative’s chronological rush spiked with apt foreshadowing, flashbacks and endearing humor. His insider’s take on the rigors of operatic training and backstage blowups, along with his career details (roles from Mephistopheles to poet Li Bai) and name-dropping (Pavarotti, Domingo), are a fan’s delight. Most remarkable, however, is the way that Tian’s concern for family and country, along with the details of his life in music, create a metaphor for an emerging self-awareness. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Open Ebook - 322 pages - 978-1-62045-863-1
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