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.
Along the Roaring River: My Wild Ride from Mao to the Metby Hao Jiang Tian
Praise for Along the Roaring River
"I was so completely taken with Hao Jiang Tian's memoir that I carried it halfway around world to finish reading it. Tian let me into his world, one filled with astonishing events and candid details. He has a natural storytelling voice in finding the strange and humorous ironies that link past and present. Along/b>/i>… See more details below
Praise for Along the Roaring River
"I was so completely taken with Hao Jiang Tian's memoir that I carried it halfway around world to finish reading it. Tian let me into his world, one filled with astonishing events and candid details. He has a natural storytelling voice in finding the strange and humorous ironies that link past and present. Along the Roaring River is as riveting as a well-told novel."
"I have sung eight operas with Tian since his Met debut, and now I understand how the passion and strength in that beautiful voice were created in desperate and dangerous times. Tian has had a life worthy of an opera!"
"I was deeply moved by Tian's story, how he struggled to survive in the maelstrom of Mao's China and then how he toiled to succeed as an artist in America. . . . It is no surprise that music—like it did for me—took him to a higher place, and it was thrilling to read how music fueled this young man's wild imagination and provided a passion for living."
"Along the Roaring River is a gripping and inspiring account of how an artist transcended the savagery of the Cultural Revolution to take his place on the world's greatest opera stages. This book reads like a suspense novel."
—Allan Miller, filmmaker, From Mao to Mozart and Isaac Stern in China
"Along the Roaring River takes us through an extraordinary life filled with humor, suspense, and an operatic-sized heart. From the deprivations and chaos of China's Cultural Revolution to the excitement and glamour of opera's great stages, Tian's gripping and moving memoir spans many different worlds, discovering in each the common humanity which binds them together. This is a book which makes us want to sing!"
—David Henry Hwang, playwright, Tony Award winner, M. Butterfly
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.
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