Bamboo Cutter and the Moon

Full Score: PDF
Piano-Vocal Score: PDF
Audio excerpt: Bamboo Cutter and the Moon

Instrumentation: Chamber Opera: soprano, mezzo, baritone, woodwind quintet
Duration: ca. 27:00
Year of Completion: 2009
Program Notes

The libretto is taken from the Japanese folk tale The Bamboo Cutter and the Moon Maiden, with research and translations done by the composer. Haiku about the moon have been inserted into the story from three major Japanese poets: Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), Yosa Buson (1716-1784), and Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828). These short haiku serve as the material for the main arias in the opera. A single haunting chord that opens the work and appears in various guises throughout the opera represents the moon. This "moon chord" is altered in the second half of the work when Kaguya learns the truth about her life here on Earth.

A few changes to the original story have been made by the composer; the bamboo farmer has been renamed from the original folk tale and is now a woman - the Japanese name Take (without the Anglicied accent) translates to "female bamboo farmer." A final piece of research went into the first melody heard in the opera, played by the piccolo and sung by Take when she enters. Known as the "Kariboshikiri Uta," this traditional melody was sung by bamboo farmers while they worked in the field.