In 16th century China, an anonymous writer wrote a tale about a 7th century Buddhist monk who traveled west to India in search of sacred texts. This novel, titled Journey to the West, became one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Over the years it has been translated into English by various authors, until finally, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett (creators of Gorillaz) composed and illustrated an opera based on this classic text.

“Monkey: Journey to the West” is traveling to New York City for the first time since its premiere at the Manchester International Festival in 2007. It will run from July 6-July 28 at the David H. Koch Theater, as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng, this musical theater performance is a re-imagination of an epic tale brought to life by Shi-Zheng’s guidance, Albarn’s musical talent, and Hewlett’s vision.

Albarn organized the orchestra to consist of both Chinese and Western instruments. He composed the music based on the Chinese five-note scale, using a five-point red star stuck to his soundboard. Later he rearranged the music to better flow as a musical album that stands apart from the narrative of the opera; this album, called “Journey to the West”, was released as a soundtrack in 2008. Preview a track here that demonstrates the Chinese influence as well as Albarn’s inherent style.  And if you know anything about Albarn, Hewlett, and Gorillaz, you know this is going to be a visual and auditory treat.

Dates for the Monkey: Journey to the West at the Lincoln Center are listed below:

Saturday, July 6, 8pm
Sunday, July 7, 2pm
Sunday, July 7, 8pm
Tuesday, July 9, 8pm
Wednesday, July 10, 8pm
Thursday, July 11, 8pm
Friday, July 12, 8pm
Saturday, July 13, 2pm
Saturday, July 13, 8pm
Sunday, July 14, 2pm
Sunday, July 14, 8pm
Tuesday, July 16, 8pm
Wednesday, July 17, 8pm
Thursday, July 18, 8pm
Friday, July 19, 8pm
Saturday, July 20, 2pm
Saturday, July 20, 8pm
Sunday, July 21, 2p
Sunday, July 21, 8pm
Tuesday, July 23, 8pm
Wednesday, July 24, 8pm
Thursday, July 25, 8pm
Friday, July 26, 8pm
Saturday, July 27, 2pm
Saturday, July 27, 8pm
Sunday, July 28, 2pm
Sunday, July 28, 8pm

-Emilia Navarro