Lotus Lives is a chamber opera, scored for two singers with brass ensemble, that brings together a fascinating juxtaposition of chronologies. The on-screen and shifting panorama of singers, dancers, instrumentalists, and shadow puppetry, both live and prerecorded. The music blends contemporary styles with rap, Chinese folk music, and dance-club music into an exuberant romp accompanied by a dazzling display of electronics.
 Through a generous Opera America grant by the Toulmin foundation, the members of the opera team will perform Lotus Lives at Tufts University in February 2016.


Tim Bartlett documents making of shadow puppets in Lotus Lives on his blog.

Cast and Creative


Su Lian Tan is a much sought after flutist and composer. Her music has been described as “the stunner of the evening,” (Washington Post) and “...refined, cultured compositions… Rewarding for everyone...” “far and away my favorite…a must- own for flutists and flute enthusiasts..” (Fanfare Magazine), “it is simply gorgeous…so original” ( Carol Wincenc, flutist). Making her first recordings at the age of 14, she has recently been featured in Flute Talk and released a CD featuring her performances of new works dedicated to her, Grand Theft and other Felonies (ARSIS Audio). Superstar Carol Wincenc performs her Autumn Lute- Song as a finale to the program. Ms. Tan has been commissioned by groups such as the Grammy-winning Takacs String Quartet, Da Capo Chamber Players, and the Vermont Symphony. Another recent release Music by Su Lian Tan (ARSIS) contains Jamaica’s Songs, written in collaboration with author Jamaica Kincaid. Her intermedia chamber opera Lotus Lives was performed to great acclaim in the last two seasons. Upcoming premiers of commissioned works includes a piano quintet for Sophie Shao, cellist, and concerti for virtuosi Joe Burgstaller, trumpet, and Darrett Adkins, cellist. A current recording project features the Jupiter String Quartet and Bruce Brubaker. Her music is published by ECS Publishing and Theodore Presser.

 Also a dedicated teacher, Ms. Tan is Professor of Music at Middlebury College, where she continues to mentor talented young musicians. This season and next, she will perform, give master classes and guest lectures at several venues including the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in Singapore and Oberlin College, Ohio. She has received numerous accolades and citations for teaching as well as for her music, including awards from ASCAP and the Naumburg Foundation. She holds degrees from the Trinity College, London (F.T.C.L.), Bennington College (B.A.), The Juilliard School (M.M.) and Princeton University (Ph.D.).


 Anne Babson’s first collection, forthcoming this year from Vox Press, The White Trash Pantheon, won the Colby H. Kullman prize. Her poetry has been nominated four times for the Pushcart. She has won awards from Columbia, Atlanta Review, Grasslands Review, and other reviews. Her work has been published in the US, in England, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and Turkey. She was included in a British anthology of the best working American poets today entitled Seeds of Fire (Smokestack Books, 2008) and is another British Anthology related to the current riots in England entitled Emergency Verse (Caparison Books, 2011). She has four chapbooks, over a hundred journal publications, including work recently featured in in Iowa Review, Barrow Street, Atlanta Review, and many others. She is featured on a compilation hip-hop CD-- The Cornerstone (New Lew Music, 2007). She has read her work for national radio programs and has appeared on television in the United States and in Taiwan. Catch her blog about her North-South culture shock at


 Tim Bartlett shoots, assembles, and projects moving images, with a background in documentary film and experimental video art. As a teenager, Bartlett’s work was recognized with the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum Prize in Film and Video. He received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to spend one year documenting the art of English bell ringing, and was cinematographer and editor of Tibet in Song, winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. He has edited award-winning documentary and reality television series, airing on CNN, Al Jazeera America, MTV, CBS, and for BBC Worldwide Productions and The New Yorker magazine. Bartlett received attention in 2014, for designing large-scale public projections on the iconic Kentile Floors sign in Brooklyn, New York, which he adapted into the experimental film, Overhead Under Foot. Bartlett’s interactive video projections have also been seen in live rock shows, gallery installations, and concert halls. He has lead workshops on creative technology at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) professional summer camp, and his projects have been featured on various technology websites.

 Bartlett considers film to be the visual side of music: a temporal medium that translates divergent experiences and forms into light and sound, ideas and emotions. This relationship is integral to Lotus Lives; Su Lian Tan began collaborating with him before the music was even composed. To create visuals for the opera, he traveled from traditional puppet theaters in Malaysia to high-tech hacker spaces in Brooklyn.

Bartlett studied English literature, film, and music at Middlebury College in Vermont, and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.


 Evan Bennett received extensive musical training as a conductor, composer, oboist, and pianist, winning national awards in composition and as a solo oboist. At nineteen he began playing professionally with the Utah Symphony Orchestra. As a conductor, he was formerly Music Director of the Middlebury College Orchestra and Lowell Opera. He has also conducted the Meridian Arts Ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players, Princeton University Orchestra, Middlebury Chamber Soloists, and other ensembles at venues such as Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. He has conducted the premieres of over 15 new works, the most recent being Su Lian Tan’s Lotus Lives at the Manhattan School of Music with the Meridian Arts Ensemble. His compositions have been premiered by the Brodsky String Quartet, Gemini, Cardinal Brass Quintet, Royal Academy Symphony Orchestra, and a broadcast over BBC Radio. Other awards include the Yehudi Menuhin Prize and a Naumburg fellowship. In addition to his musical activities, he has been a guest lecturer and panelist on music education, including for the Korean government as part of its national KIGA program. A former faculty member at New England Conservatory and Middlebury College, he currently divides his time between New England Conservatory and the Walnut Hill School for the Arts where he serves as the Executive Director of the NEC at Walnut Hill program, as well as the Director of Music at the Walnut Hill. He holds degrees from Harvard, the Juilliard School, and Princeton University.


 Lauded by The New York Times as “vibrant”, “a dark toned, agile Mezzo soprano,” Hyona Kim was a Grand Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Grand Winner of the Joy In Singing Competition, First Prize winner of the Gerda Lissner Competition, and a multiple grant winner at the Licia Albanese-Puccini and Giulio Gari Competitions. She also has won the Schubert Lied Competition and the Suri Competition in her native country, South Korea, where she received her Bachelor’s degree at Ewha Womans University. She earned her Master’s degree and Professional Studies Diploma from Mannes College of Music where she performed Dorabella (Cosi fan tutte), Marcellina (Le Nozze di Figaro), Annina (La Traviata) among others. Other performed opera roles include Suzuki (Madama Butterfly), Hermia (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and Dame Quickly (Falstaff). Ms. Kim made her Houston Grand Opera debut originating the role of Hal-Mo-Ni in Jeeyoung Kim’s From My Mother’s Mother at HGOco and will make her San Francisco Opera debut next season. Her concert credits include performances as the alto soloist in Beethoven Symphony No.9, Mahler Symphony No. 2 and 3, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Bach’s St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Verdi’s Requiem. She has performed at Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Weil Recital Hall and Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. For more information, visit


 Winner of the Joy in Singing Competition, Deborah Lifton’s work has been honored by the National Federation of Music Clubs, the David Adams Art Song Competition and the Hellenic Foundation. Upcoming performances include Razaz’s Call of the Valley of Not Knowing with Paola Prestini’s Original Music Workshop and Belinda in Dido and Aeneas with Ridotto Opera. This gifted and unusual artist was recently featured in American Opera Projects’ Composers and the Voice Series, as Sally Follet in Center for Contemporary Opera’s production of William Mayer’s A Death in the Family at the Avignon Opera in France and Millicent in the world premiere of Dellaira’s The Secret Agent at the Szeged National Theater in Hungary, in Avignon and at New York’s Merkin Hall, also with CCO. She performed in a double-bill of Philip Hagemann’s works, presented by Encompass New Opera Theatre at New York’s Symphony Space: Dark Lady of the Sonnets and Poison, Passion, Petrification.

 Other appearances include soloist in Bernstein’s Songfest at Aspen Music Festival, Beth in Little Women and Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof with Ash Lawn Opera, Into the Woods and Little Red Riding Hood with Natchez Opera Festival, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro with Rising Star Singers Festival, Valencienne in The Merry Widow with Bronx Opera, Ellie in Showboat with Mercury Opera Rochester, Catherine in Center for Contemporary Opera’s A Death in the Family (Albany Records), Elle in La Voix Humaine with Kitchen Theater in New York, concerts with Opera Moderne and with Ridotto Opera, the title roles in Bastien und Bastienne and Haydn’s Armida, as well as Elisa in Il Re Pastore. An active recitalist, Ms. Lifton has been heard at New York’s Trinity Church, the Kosciuszko Foundation, Lippes Concert Hall, Yamaha Showroom, the National Arts Club and the Galapagos Art Space.


  Since its founding in 2007, Montreal-based brass quintet with percussion, Magnitude6 has built its reputation as an innovative ensemble, bringing fresh perspectives and interpretations to today’s music. Born from the irresistible desire to approach contemporary repertoire in a more adventurous way, six of Montreal’s most promising young musicians decided to found Magnitude6. Parallel to their role in the ensemble, they all pursue active careers as orchestral and chamber musicians, soloist, recitalists and teachers. The members have received music education in some of the best schools in Quebec, as well as in Europe and the United States.

 Under the artistic and general direction of tubist Samuel Lalande-Markon, the ensemble has premiered about thirty works by Canadians composers, composed or arranged with particular artistic intents. Magnitude6 has also given the Canadian premiere of many works. They have exposed the Quebec audience to discover cutting-edge new music – hybrid, irreverent, radical – written by international composers.Magnitude6 is keen to promote the richness of the brass quintet with drums, most particularly by mixing different musical styles (classical, jazz, rock, hip hop). Defending the accessibility and energy of avant-garde repertoire, the ensemble regularly self-produces unconventional configurations, incorporating performances with multimedia technologies and site-specific productions.

 The Arts Council of Montreal, Quebec and Canada supports the ensemble by having awarded them numerous grants since 2010. Magnitude6 is a member of the Quebec Council for Music and Le Vivier, Quebec association for new music.

Upcoming Performances

Opera America and Tufts University department of Music present Lotus Lives, a chamber opera

Date: February 21, 2016 at 8:00 p.m.

Distler Performance Hall
Perry and Marty Granoff Music Center
Tufts University
20 Talbot Avenue, Medford, MA 02155

Past Performances

September 30 and October 30th, 2011 - Mahaney Center for the Arts Concert Hall, Middlebury, Vermont


Lotus Lives was awarded funding from OPERA America's Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.
View press release


"Lotus Lives is a chamber opera, for two voices and brass ensemble, that brings a fascinating juxtaposition of chronologies, an exploration of themes of growth and discovery, and the crossing and interpenetration of cultures, all accompanied by a dazzling display of electronic staging."

— Nicholas Clifford, Middlebury College

"..about Lotus Lives by Su Lian Tan. The subject of a Chinese American woman exploring her heritage was very compelling. I also thought this was a beautiful production, and I especially responded to the video/projection design and the way the show played with shadow puppetry. The piece (and Tan herself) feels so ambitious, and I'm glad she's been brought to my attention."

— Oskar Eustis, artistic director, Public Theater, NYC

The Middlebury premiere is discussed in The Rutland Herald, The Addison Eagle, and The Addison Independent.