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

Overview

Since his 1991 debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Hao Jiang Tian has appeared on the world’s greatest stages, more than 300 times at the Met alone. How he got there is a drama of bittersweet humor, mortal danger, heartbreaking tragedy, and inspiring triumph—more passionate and turbulent than even the grandest opera. In Along the Roaring River, Tian relives his coming of age in China during the chaotic Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and his dramatic journey from hard labor in a Beijing factory to ...

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

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Overview

Since his 1991 debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Hao Jiang Tian has appeared on the world’s greatest stages, more than 300 times at the Met alone. How he got there is a drama of bittersweet humor, mortal danger, heartbreaking tragedy, and inspiring triumph—more passionate and turbulent than even the grandest opera. In Along the Roaring River, Tian relives his coming of age in China during the chaotic Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and his dramatic journey from hard labor in a Beijing factory to international opera stardom.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
* In this remarkable memoir, operatic bass Tian relates the dramatic story of his childhood in Communist China, his coming of age during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s-1980s, and his success on the international opera circuit and as a "house basso" at the Metropolitan Opera. As the first native Chinese opera singer to achieve renown outside of his country, Tian brings a unique perspective to the cultural divide between China and the West. His journey from teenage factory worker to choral member of Beijing's Central Philharmonic Society to graduate student in Denver to sought-after opera star is so riveting and filled with fascinating detail that it reads like a page-turning novel. Indeed, Tian's outsize personality resembles that of many of the characters he portrays on stage. The writing throughout is without pretense and almost artless in its directness, yet it resonates with humanity, candor, and passion. All opera fans as well as readers interested in the social and political history of China will be captivated by this inspirational book. Highly recommended.
—Larry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA (Jibrary Journal, May 1, 2008)

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) (Publishers Weekly, March 31, 2008)

Publishers Weekly

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)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In this remarkable memoir, operatic bass Tian relates the dramatic story of his childhood in Communist China, his coming of age during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s-1980s, and his success on the international opera circuit and as a "house basso" at the Metropolitan Opera. As the first native Chinese opera singer to achieve renown outside of his country, Tian brings a unique perspective to the cultural divide between China and the West. His journey from teenage factory worker to choral member of Beijing's Central Philharmonic Society to graduate student in Denver to sought-after opera star is so riveting and filled with fascinating detail that it reads like a page-turning novel. Indeed, Tian's outsize personality resembles that of many of the characters he portrays on stage. The writing throughout is without pretense and almost artless in its directness, yet it resonates with humanity, candor, and passion. All opera fans as well as readers interested in the social and political history of China will be captivated by this inspirational book. Highly recommended.
—Larry Lipkis

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470056417
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 4/28/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Hao Jiang Tian is the first Chinese-born opera singer to achieve a lasting success on world stages. A bass with a voice that is unusually sweet and versatile, he has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera every season since he debuted there in 1991. He performs the major bass roles at the great opera houses around the globe. Recently he and his wife, Martha Liao, have begun to foster new Chinese opera and talent for the world to hear. Now an American citizen, Tian has homes in New York City, Denver (where he used to sing at a piano bar), and Beijing.

Lois B. Morris and her husband, Robert Lipsyte, have written for the New York Times about classical music and opera. Separately, Morris writes about mental health and psychology, including a long running column in Allure. She has written or co-written eight books. Lipsyte is a New York Times contributor, former sports and city columnist, and television commentator. He has written seventeen books.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments.

Foreword.

Prelude.

PART I: THE BEAST WITH EIGHTY -EIGHT TEETH.

Chapter 1: Music Torture.

Chapter 2: The Little Emperor of Destruction.

Chapter 3: Mama Nature Sings.

Chapter 4: So Long, Beijing.

Chapter 5: Embracing the Beast.

Chapter 6: What Was I Thinking?

Chapter 7: Yellow Hair Blues.

Chapter 8: My Mother and the White Boned Demon.

Chapter 9: A Card Game.

Chapter 10: Son of a Gun.

Interlude.

PART II: BIG OLD YANKEE.

Chapter 11: John Peking.

Chapter 12: Facing the Music.

Chapter 13: Love Conquers All.

Chapter 14: Hao Giovanni.

Chapter 15: A Night at the Opera.

Chapter 16: The Devil in China.

Interlude.

PART III: FISHING.

Chapter 17: Millenium.

Chapter 18: Where You Come From.

Index.

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