Marco Polo joins The Midsummer Marriage as an opera I really thought I would treasure, only to find that the music put me off from enjoying the fascinating story, intriguing philosophical depths and glorious mounting.
Occasionally the music would veer back into something I could assimilate (quasi-Britten, for instance) only to begin pointless screeching. Particularly from the Jerry Lewis character from the Peking Opera.
I confess that my best watchings of this opera were with the sound turned off, especially in 3x rewind. The strange but intriguing juxtaposition of piazza, desert, Himalayas and Great Wall, illuminated by the costumes, lighting and actors' movements, were a fascinating experience.
I suppose there's no accounting for tastes in music: but as someone who's been excited by recent operas by composers like Ades and Birtwhistle, I have to confess that too much of Tan Dun's score just irritated me.
(BTW, substantially the same impression of The First Emperor: amazing settings and movements, wonderful characterizations by the singers, but too much of the music left me flat (though much of it caught me better than Marco Polo).
Hence a three-star judgment for me; but if you like Tan Dun's music, then this is an experience not to be missed