Prologue I: A toaster, a coffee mug (blue) and a cotton sock, left in the dangerous vicinity of both the toaster and the stove, open the opera with a witty yet profound exchange about the woes and the joys of their object life.
Prologue II: A choir of raggedy students sing about their ultimate need for a new fresh philosophical movement, something to get excited about yet without too much actual work: “Kant, oh Kant, why do you write in such convoluted and effort-requiring sentences” etc…
Act I: Set in an unidentified city by the lake, an older discouraged student Greg Hartmann is reading a turgid Foliant by some German thinker. Contemplates his future philosophical existence. Struggles to understand his creative block and complete lack of motivation. Recalls decisive moments of his life that are replayed for everyone to see in the background.
Notable arias: “Ah, why am I so lonely and obscure” – “My toaster browns my bread so perfectly” – “Islamic occasionalism is the best, man” [addressed to an imaginary interlocutor] – “I fancy you, Nancy, but you fancy me not” – “Good things vs. Bad things”
Act II: Set in the same city, but in a different (yet familiar) part. Set changes only slightly, same furniture, same surroundings, stagehands change them while the new hero, introduced as Brian Levin in his future ex-wife’s aria (“Oh no, I don’t love you anymore, I’m leaving you, Brian”), sings the aria “Now that I have finished my dissertation, whatever will I do for a living”… Faustian overtones in music (citations from Berlioz and Gounod). Wife leaves, Brian is alone, leaves the house to go for a walk.
Heros pass each other unknowingly on the street, sing a duet (from opposite sides of the stage, full of consonant harmony a la Rameau), continue about their lives (share the stage, use the same set), hope for some kind of future happiness.
Notable aria/duets: “Blue coffee mug, you’re all I have left” – “Sex and intimacy, I have read about you in book and I long for you” – Duet: “Will anyone ever know how brilliant I am? Will anyone ever write my biography? I better keep a diary of important events for future reference! What do you mean you are out of milk!?” – “Must I apply for a job in Kentucky, dear ducky?”
Choral Divertissement: Choir of graduate students (now spread around in the audience) sings of their future academic dreams and tenured security. Start off in a dissonant chaotic glossolalia, end with a beautifully harmonious refrain “And then everyone will know how smart and original we are!”
Ballet Interlude I: Several dancers in costumes of bananas, hot dogs, toasters, chairs, large cotton swabs, rush around the stage, bumping into each other, eventually destroying each other’s costumes.
Act III: A foreign and excitingly busy and exotic city. Large crowds with name tags, murmur of exciting philosophical conversation among the name tagged people (young and old, men and women). Greg and Brian enter from the opposite ends of the stage. Greg’s aria “I know how to orient myself now” – crowd on Greg’s side of the stage stops talking and turns heads in his direction. Brian’s aria “I have tried everything, and yet I only found loneliness, why must philosophy be so hard?” – crowd on Brian’s side of the stage turns heads, nods empathetically. Greg and Brian catch a glimpse of one another, they approach the center stage, orchestral interlude suggests nervous excitement, doubt and, ultimately, consummation. Greg and Brian embrace, leave the center stage, crowd excitedly whispers something that eventually becomes an audible and ever growing in volume chant:
will it be appreciated?
surely they will hate it!
we are exhilarated!”
Table with Greg and Brian spotlighted – members of the choir now eagerly lean forward and nod. Suddenly, someone exclaims: “I have an idea” and then another “And I have an idea” – enthusiastic orchestral part ends the act.
Act IV: Greg and Brian in their apartment surrounded by various objects, objects are everywhere, yet the heroes are chatting away about this and that. Door bell rings, it’s another shipment of objects, Greg steps outside to sign for it. Brian looks longingly in the direction of the orchestra pit, approaches the front of the stage, jumps into the pit, emerges with three tubas and an assortment of strings, attempts to play them, produces amusing cacophony, puts the instruments in the pile of discarded pizza boxes. Greg returns, some friends show up, everyone is happy and singing by now familiar “Object-oriented, greatly underrated, we are exhilarated” tune into the night. There are women and wine, jokes and occasional high-fives, laughter and running around.
Ballet Interlude II: Dance of the Objects – various objects and people dance around holding hands, carrying objects that cannot dance, general anarchy soon ensues, things falls down, pieces of set are destroyed, a scream here and there, the crowd suddenly divides into several groups, toaster convulses on the floor, socks catch on fire, coffee mug is broken. Dancing continues and time passes quicker and quicker, some dancers are down and are carried away, new faces join the frenzy.
Epilogue: Unrecognizably handsome, even if slightly overweight and balding, Greg and Brian are now old. They moved into separate larger apartments, got married and have children. We see them on the opposite sides of the stage working on their respective books, only to be interrupted by a phone call here and a student visitation there. Greg sings “The history of the movement is almost complete, now I only have to write about my late work and my untimely passing” – as he puts finishing touches on the manuscript, he is ceased with melancholic episode. Brian senses the mood and sings “Yes, we have made it this far, mate – don’t be sad, be glad” – music becomes more and more sparse and minimal, lights dim. In the quiet peaceful music everyone is ready for a final chord.
Suddenly the lights are completely out, music stops, candelabra collapses with horrible screech, everyone panics and runs for the door. Doors are looked, people with flashlight dressed as toasters and armed with tasers appear on the stage and proceed to shock everyone they come across. General panic. A large sign appears above the stage, it reads “The Revenge of the Objects, Motherfuckers!” A group of toasters surrounds Greg and Brian, they are pursued and tased continuously. Music is heard again, but now it’s only two ominous chords (“Re-venge! Re-venge!”). The chaos continues for 20-30 mins – audience members are now seriously freaking out, police sirens are heard outside. Toasters are joined by socks and coffee mugs – they no longer tase but hit everything and everyone with whatever they can get their parts on. Russian special forces surround the opera house and pipe in poisonous sleepy gas. Everyone but inanimate objects dies.
Anyway, something like that. I need to work on the ending, of course, but it’s almost supper time.