Gorillaz Opera 'Monkey' to Make New York Debut

Damon Albarn - H 2012
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Damon Albarn - H 2012

The multimedia theater piece by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett will open this summer's Lincoln Center Festival, which also includes shows from John Malkovich and Sinead O'Connor.

NEW YORK -- Monkey: Journey to the West, a stage project developed by Blur frontman Damon Albarn, his Gorillaz collaborator Jamie Hewlett and Chinese opera director Chen Shi-zheng, will make its New York debut with a 27-performance engagement as the opening event of this summer's Lincoln Center Festival.

Adapted from the 16th century Chinese epic folktale, the East-West music-theater fusion was first seen in 2007 at the Manchester International Festival and has played various arts events since then, including the Spoleto USA Festival in 2008. A CD of Albarn's music for the project was released that same year.

Featuring Chinese acrobats, martial arts athletes and contortionists, the elaborate opera follows the fantastical odyssey of a monk and his animal protectors, led by the magical Monkey King across continents and centuries in search of sacred Buddhist scriptures. Conceived and directed by Chen, it features music by Albarn, with anime-influenced design, costumes and animation by visual artist Hewlett. Albarn's score mixes Chinese pop melodies, brass fanfares, percussion and electronic sound washes.

The production will play the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center July 6-28.

Also featured in the Lincoln Center Festival lineup is a new French-language production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses (July 9-14), directed by John Malkovich, who starred as Valmont in the 1988 Stephen Frears film adaptation, Dangerous Liaisons; and two performances by Sinead O'Connor of The Gospel Sessions (July 26-27), paying tribute to such gospel artists as the Staples Singers and Sam Cooke.