Atlas is an opera in three acts composed by Meredith Monk who also wrote the libretto and choreographed the dances. It is scored for 18 voices and a small chamber orchestra which includes a shawm and a glass harmonica. The story is very loosely based on the life and writings of the explorer Alexandra David-Néel and is told primarily through wordless vocal sounds with brief interjections of spoken text in Mandarin Chinese and English. The opera was co-commissioned by Houston Grand Opera, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia. It premiered at Houston Grand Opera in February 1991, followed by performances that same year in Philadelphia and Minneapolis. It subsequently toured in the US and Europe and had its New York premiere in May 1992 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
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