The Lesson of Da Ji

dajiThis review first appeared in the print edition of Opera Canada.

Alice Ping Yee Ho’s The Lesson of Da Ji, to an English libretto by Marjorie Chan, is an ambitious piece. It tells the story of the concubine Da Ji who is having an affair with the son of a local lord, Bo Yi, who is masquerading as her music teacher. The king covets the young man’s father’s land and finds out about the affair when Da Ji’s maid betrays her. He invites Bo Yi and his parents to dine. Bo Yi doesn’t show because he’s been intercepted and killed by the king’s agents. The king, painted as a rather cartoonish villain, serves the boy up as a stew to Da Ji and his parents before killing them and presenting Da Ji with the boy’s heart. Thus is order restored and betrayal punished!

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