Past Event

Apr 19—21, 2024

Book of Mountains and Seas

Huang Ruo & Basil Twist / From USA
Produced by Beth Morrison Projects

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“An exquisite masterpiece of suggestion, an immersive tapestry of sound and image that weaves itself into your consciousness.”

— Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal

Chinese creation myths come to life with larger than life puppetry and a polyphonic chorus in this breathtaking theatrical event.

Book of Mountains and Seas is a daring, new work by award-winning composer Huang Ruo and MacArthur Fellow puppeteer/artist Basil Twist. In this pitch perfect collaboration, the show takes on ancient Chinese creation myths—first transcribed in the 4th Century BC—which are strikingly relevant to our current climate change emergency. An ensemble of massive puppets, as beautiful as they are intimidating, and the chorus of Ars Nova Copenhagen harness music and a stunning visual tableaux to offer a portrait of the natural world and our vital, yet tenuous, relationship to it. Basil Twist is a third-generation puppeteer and object theater artist, renowned globally for his visionary adaptations of opera, dance, and theater. Chinese-born American composer Huang Ruo has been called “one of the world’s leading young composers” and was formerly Composer in Residence at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.



Emerson Paramount Center
Robert J. Orchard Stage
559 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111


Apr 19, 2024 - Apr 21, 2024


Single tickets are available now along with Group Sales.


1 hours 15 minutes

Ages 14+

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Audio Description
Sun, Apr 21 2:00 pm



Join the Discussion

Book of Mountains and Seas post-show discussion
Emerson Paramount Center
Robert J. Orchard Stage

Immediately following the 8PM performance, ArtsEmerson’s Director of Artistic Programming Ronee Penoi will host an on-stage post show discussion with creators Basil Twist, Huang Ruo, and Creative Producer Beth Morrison. The conversation will last approximately 25-30 minutes.



Beth Morrison Projects

Beth Morrison Projects (BMP) is one of the foremost creators and producers of new opera-theatre and music theatre, with a fierce commitment to leading the industry into the future, cultivating a new generation of talent, and telling the stories of our time.

Founded by “contemporary opera mastermind” (LA Times) Beth Morrison, who was honored as one of Musical America’s Artists of the Year/Agents of Change in 2020, BMP has grown into “a driving force behind America’s thriving opera scene” (Financial Times), with Opera News declaring that the company, “more than any other… has helped propel the art form into the twenty-first century.”

Operating across the US and internationally, with offices in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, BMP’s unique model offers living composers the support, guidance, and freedom to experiment, allowing them to create singularly innovative and impactful projects. Since forming in 2006, the company has commissioned, developed, produced and toured over 50 works in 14 countries around the world, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning chamber operas Angel’s Bone and p r i s m.

In 2013, BMP co-founded the PROTOTYPE Festival with HERE Arts Center, which has been called “utterly essential” (The New York Times), “indispensable” (The New Yorker), and “one of the world’s top festivals of contemporary opera and theater” (Associated Press).

Composer & Librettist

Huang Ruo

Director & Production Designer

Basil Twist


Paul Hillier

Lighting Design

Ayumu "Poe" Saegusa

Audio Engineer

Daniel Neumann

huang ruo

Huang Ruo

Huang Ruo has been lauded by the New Yorker as “one of the world’s leading young composers” and by the New York Times for having “a distinctive style.” His vibrant and inventive musical voice draws equal inspiration from Chinese ancient and folk music, Western avant-garde, experimental, noise, natural and processed sound, rock, and jazz to create a seamless, organic integration using a compositional technique he calls “Dimensionalism.”

Ruo’s diverse compositional works span from orchestra, chamber music, opera, theater, and dance, to cross-genre, sound installation, multi-media, experimental improvisation, folk rock, and film. His music has been premiered and performed by the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony, National Polish Radio Orchestra, Kiel Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Hong Kong, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Asko/Schoenberg Ensemble, Remix Ensemble, Nieuw Ensemble, Quatuor Diotima, and Ethel Quartet, and conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch, Marin Alsop, Michael Tilson Thomas, James Conlon, Dennis Russell Davies, Ed Spanjaard, Peter Rundel, Alexander Liebreich, Xian Zhang, and Ilan Volkov. Huang Ruo’s opera Dr. Sun Yat-Sen had its American premiere at the Santa Fe Opera in 2014 and will receive its Canadian premiere by the Vancouver Opera for its future season.

His opera Paradise Interrupted received its world premiere at the Spoleto Festival USA in 2015 and was performed at the Lincoln Center Festival in 2016, before going on tour to Asia and Europe. In addition, Huang Ruo was recently named the composer-in-residence for Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam and National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan.

la basil twist

Basil Twist

Basil Twist is the sole American to graduate from the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mezieres, France. Basil’s showmanship was spotlighted in New York by “The Jim Henson International Festival of Puppetry” with his award winning “The Araneidae Show.” Coupled with the critically & popularly praised and multiple award-winning “Symphonie Fantastique,” Twist was revealed as a singular artist of unlimited imagination. Highlights of Twist’s subsequent work have included “Petrushka” (commissioned by Lincoln Center) and “Dogugaeshi” (The Japan Society), “Behind the Lid” (Silver Whale Gallery) with Lee Nagrin and “Arias with a Twist” (HERE) co-created with nightlife icon Joey Arias. “Symphonie” and these productions have toured throughout the world.

Twist is currently represented on Broadway with “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory”. Other credits include: “Oh, Hello! On Broadway,” the puppetry in “The Addams Family” for which he won a Drama Desk Award, and staging of the puppetry for the beloved “Pee-Wee Herman Show.”

Basil’s work is deeply musical in nature. He has conceived and directed two successful operas, Ottorini Respighi’s “La Bella Dormente Nel Bosco” with the Gotham Chamber Opera at the Lincoln Center and Spoleto USA Festivals, and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel for the Houston and Atlanta Operas. “Master Peters Puppet Show” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has adapted his “Petrushka to concert hall staging with full orchestra for the Fort Worth and Phoenix Symphonies.

In dance most recently, he created the sets and puppetry for the world premiere of “Dorothy and The Prince of Oz” for The Tulsa Ballet and collaborated on a new “Nutcracker” with Christopher Wheeldon for The Joffrey Ballet. Also with Wheeldon, “Cinderella” at the Dutch National Ballet & San Francisco Ballet, and “A Winter’s Tale” for the Royal Ballet. He created “Darkness and Light” with Pilobolus and created the title role in “Wonderboy” with The Joe Goode Dance Company. In drama; Twist created the unforgettable siblings in Paula
Vogel’s play “The Long Christmas Ride Home” at Trinity Repertory and The Vineyard Theatre (including directing and designing the West Coast Premiere at The Magic Theatre), the play within the play for Oskar Eustis’ “Hamlet” at Shakespeare in the Park and Des Macunuff’s “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” at the La Jolla Playhouse.


“Book of Mountains & Seas” is an exquisite masterpiece of suggestion, an immersive tapestry of sound and image that weaves itself into your consciousness and makes its point about the interdependence of humans and their planet without ever saying it outright.

— Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal

“A beautiful performance that makes us reflect on the vulnerability of our performance”

— Beth Morrison Projects

“Splendid puppetry, imbued with poignancy and the pulsing, drum-driven drama of mythic quest”

— New York Times
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