About Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas

This musical event explores how humans and water interact with Site-Responsive Performances and a Sound/Light Installation.


In August 2008, four pairs of singers and percussionists perform 64 Bottled Operas throughout King County. Sometimes a photojournalist, videographer or sound recordist accompanies them.

The entourage drives through parking lots and hikes through forests searching for water. They sing to curious adults and children. Ducks gather. Human voices and splashing water cry out harder than the silent wisdom of hair turned white.

There is fear and longing in this scenario. Not a run-away-in-fear or humping-towards desire, more a pause-and-reflect terror and furrowed-brow hope that sends quiet shivers through the stomach. Breath senses water disappear. Ears caress aural mirages where the abundant rain of the present hides a future of burning salt.

Video Trailer


One day while wandering around a supermarket, composer Byron Au Yong was overcome in the bottled water section. He heard voices from Poland Spring and Fiji cry out. Au Yong realized that water was kidnapped and taken far from home.

In 2008, Au Yong created 64 works for voice and percussion with eight librettists from different cultural and aesthetic backgrounds. While composing, he was inspired by listening to water.

The result – Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas – was performed in waterways throughout the Pacific Northwest as part of the 2008 King County Site-Specific Performance Network.

A Sound/Light Installation was created in collaboration with interactive media artist Randy Moss for the Jack Straw New Media Gallery in Seattle from September 12 to November 21, 2008.


64 musical miniatures prompted by the 易經 I-Ching (Book of Changes)

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