King Gesar is a monodrama/opera that tells the story of a legendary Tibetan warrior king, Gesar of Ling, who rose from obscurity to battle the demons that enslave humankind. The story begins with Gesar’s early years, his struggle as an indecisive youth, and a significant horse race during which Gesar, with the help of his magical horse, Kyang Go Karkar, emerges as a warrior of the human heart. His final victory ushers in the era of enlightened society and peace.
King Gesar was conceived as a kind of campfire opera. I visualized a situation akin to Tibetan “performances”: the campfire in a pitch black night under the dome of an immense starry sky, or, a daytime community gathering in a very large tent or small town squarefamiliar situations in which people eat, drink, and tell stories. In these kinds of settings the many exploits of the great warrior Gesar are told.… These stories instruct in every way, as well as entertain. A single narrator would take on the roles of the many characters in the story. It was not unusual for him to get completely caught up in the telling, to go into a trance, and “receive” even more Gesar stories. There are hundreds of these stories, many of them variations on the basic themes in Gesar’s life.