Op. 32 - The Last Silent voice,
an opera in one act
for Soprano, Baritone, Three-Part Choir and Thirteen Musicians
Libretto: Monique Boudreau
Program Notes: The Last Silent Voice, an Opera in One Act, Op. 32 was written in the fall of 2014 for the opera troupe The Chamber Opera Players of Los Angeles and premiered in a fully-staged version in November of that year. Originally scored for piano, soprano and baritone leading roles and a chorus consisting of soprano, mezzo-soprano and tenor, the sixteen minute one act opera was then orchestrated for thirteen musicians. The science fiction-tinged libretto, written by Monique Boudreau, follows a husband and wife through a psychological dilemma that ends in hysteria. Set in mid-century America, a man enters after a substantial musical introduction, disturbed and disillusioned and calls for his wife. After establishing that they are both okay, the audience is put into a suspension of disbelief and we learn that the husband and wife are the last people who can use their voice as a means of communication. Naturally, panic sets in and the confused couple contemplate their newly-found circumstance, to which the Husband declaims "It may be a blessing. Finally some peace, some respite; Imagine it!" The chorus echoes his sentiment. They then begin describing the moment in which they discovered the lack of vocal inflections amongst their fellows citizens. The Husband describes an unheard scream; The Wife relays a conversation with her lovelorn sister. We soon learn of the very different emotional states the pair are in. "But you're okay?," the Husband asks. "Of course I'm not alright, no one is alright," she retorts, to which he confidently responds, "I am." After a tense build up, the Husband ecstatically describes his affinity for the lack of vocal communication, declaring "I found a voice inside of me and it was singing!" The Wife, baffled, cannot comprehend his unusual stance and asks for his consolation. Instead of understanding, he boldly admits that "At part of [him] had hoped that she would be like the others!," creating a strong dichotomy between the two loquacious lovers. An irregular heart beat rhythm is the musical platform for the Husband to mellifluously convince her of his stand on silence, to which she responds inharmoniously. In a moment of desperation and hatred, he unconvincingly wields a knife over her to mute her vocal injustices but cannot commit to the finality of the act. Terrified, the Wife begs for forgiveness, which she receives, but he cannot forgive himself, nor does he want to live in a world in which verbal communication is essential. A resolute decision is made and the Wife, if only for a moment, becomes the last silent voice.
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