Alison Jones's Opera Plot Summaries.

Leos Janacek:
The Cunning Little Vixen

A plot summary from Opera~Opera -- Australasia's independent monthly newspaper of the musical theatre, established in 1978.

Sep 97

ACT I

Scene 1. A forest hollow on a summer afternoon

The forester is returning home late, trying to concoct an excuse that will satisfy his wife. He lies down to rest and falls asleep. Insects dance around him, eyed off by a frog. The young vixen Sharp-Ears frightens the frog which jumps on to the forester's nose, waking him. He grabs the vixen to take home to amuse the children.

Scene 2. The forester's house

The forester's wife is not pleased at the flea-ridden addition to her household. The dog tries to silence the vixen's laments with his own sad story. Although knowing nothing of love, he composes poetry and sings it, only to be whipped by the forester. The vixen's only knowledge of the ways of the world derives from a free-living family of starlings, whose goings-on she relates. She angrily repulses the dog's advances. Teased by the children, Pepik and Frantik, she bites Pepik and is tied up. The cock and the hens take the high moral ground, pointing out that they are useful and thus rewarded by the forester's wife, whereas the vixen is useless. She tries to rouse the hens to rebel against the cock, but they are too docile. In disgust she pretends to bury herself in the dung heap, but when the fowls investigate, she kills them all. The forester's wife demands that she be shot, but she bites through her rope and runs into the forest.

ACT II

Scene 1. The forest

The vixen investigates a badger's lair, but when he treats her rudely, she attacks him for owning so large a house and puts him to flight by fouling the lair.

Scene 2. Pasek's inn

The forester is playing cards with the schoolmaster and the priest. He teases the schoolmaster about his infatuation with a woman called Terynka, but reacts angrily when the teacher asks about the vixen. On the way home the schoolmaster catches sight of something (the vixen) behind a sunflower and, mistaking her for Terynka, addresses her in words of love and ends up falling down drunkenly. The priest, also drunk, remembers a beautiful girl he had admired in his youth, but who became pregnant to a butcher's boy who tried to put the blame on him. Since then he has treated women warily.

Scene 3. The vixen's lair

The vixen is admired by a handsome fox, who is delighted to learn that she is independent, has her own home and has been brought up by humans. She tells him of some of her adventures with the forester. The fox continues to pay court and eventually the other creatures are scandalised at their liaison. The vixen is overcome when she realises this, but the fox puts things right by proposing marriage. They are married by a woodpecker.

ACT III

Scene 1. A clearing in the forest

The poultry seller Haras"ta, singing cheerfully, meets the forester, and tells him he is about to be married to Terynka. When the forester asks suspiciously if he has been poaching, Haras"ta denies it, but admits to having been tempted by a dead hare he has just seen. The forester decides to use it as bait and set a trap for the vixen, but she, accompanied by the fox and their progeny, smells his presence and is not fooled, teaching the young foxes to be careful of traps.

When Haras"ta reappears with a basket full of poultry, the vixen tries to lure him away by pretending to be lame, causing him to fall and hurt his nose, but when she attacks the hens, he shoots her dead, gleefully swearing to make her pelt into a muff for Terynka.

Scene 2. Pasek's inn

Reporting that the foxes' lair is empty, the forester promises the schoolmaster a dried fox tongue - to make him invisible, which will be useful next time he goes courting sunflowers, but the schoolmaster is mournful because of Terynka's marriage.

Scene 3. The forest hollow

Reflecting on the beauties of nature, the forester falls asleep again. He sees a vixen, the living image of her mother and promises that if he catches her, he will make a better job of it, so that he doesn't get written about in the papers.

A frog jumps on to his nose, but when the forester abuses him, says that he is the grandson of the first frog, who has told him all about the forester.

Leos Janacek:
Jenufa

A plot summary from Opera~Opera -- Australasia's independent monthly newspaper of the musical theatre, established in 1978.

Dec 91

The principal figures in Jenufa represent three generations of one family. Grandmother Buryja had two sons, the elder of whom married the widow Klemen, who already had one son, Laca. They had one son Steva, who inherited the family mill.

The second son, widowed, with a daughter, Jenufa, married the Kostelnicka (female sacristan, so called because she tended the village church) as his second wife, and she brought up Jenufa as her own child.

ACT I

The courtyard of the mill, Jenufa anxiously watches for the arrival of her sweetheart Steva, fearing that he may be conscripted and their wedding postponed, which would bring her shame as she is pregnant. When her grandmother reproves her for not attending to her work, Laca (who is watching Jenufa) reproaches her for neglecting him as a child, in favor of his half-brother, Steva. Jenufa, who fears he has detected her secret, speaks sharply to him. Jano the shepherd boy runs in announcing that Jenufa has taught him to read.

Asking the mill foreman to sharpen his knife, Laca teases Jenufa and when she turns on him, he remarks what a fine sister-in-law she will make, but the foreman is not deceived about the nature of Laca's feelings. Laca's hopes that Steva has been conscripted are dashed - the foreman has just learnt that Steva has not been taken. Steva appears with other lads from the village, accompanied by musicians.

Jenufa is upset because he is drunk, but he orders the musicians to play her favorite song and leads everyone into a dance, which comes to an abrupt halt when the Kostlenicka appears. She tells Steva that he is not yet fit to marry Jenufa - he must go for a year without getting drunk before she will consider it. Jenufa tries to plead with her, but she answers that God will punish her if she disobeys. Only Laca is delighted and kisses her hand.

Jenufa begs Steva not to antagonise her stepmother, as she will be shamed if the wedding has to be put off. His idea of comforting her is to tell her how much all the girls admire him, but to him she is the prettiest of all, with her cheeks like rosy apples.

The grandmother calls him inside and Laca again comes up to Jenufa. They quarrel and his knife accidentally slashes her cheek. He cries out in remorse that he has loved her all his life, while the foreman accuses him of having done it on purpose.

ACT II

Inside the Kostelnicka's house, some months later Jenufa has had her baby, unknown to the village, as the Kostelnicka has kept her indoors and given out that she has gone to Vienna. Sending Jenufa to bed with a sleeping draught, the Kostelnicka prepares to receive Steva, who has not been near Jenufa since her accident and still does not know about the birth of the baby. Although she hates him, she is prepared to humble herself for Jenufa's sake.

But Steva refuses to aknowledge the baby, though he is willing to support it. Despite the entreaty of the Kostelnicka, he refuses to marry Jenufa, saying she has lost her beauty and become as witch-like as the Kostelnicka, whom he fears. Besides, he is going to marry the mayor's daughter, Karolka.

His departure is followed immediately by the arrival of Laca, who has been a constant visitor to the Kostelnicka, though unaware of Jenufa's presence and of the existence of the baby. Although he wants to marry Jenufa, he is appalled to learn about the child, so the Kostelnicka tells him it has died. Sending him on an errand, she takes the baby to the icy river.

Jenufa awakes and misses the baby, a boy called Steva. She calms her fears by telling herself that the Kostelnicka must have taken him to the mill to show everyone and comforts herself with the thought that Steva will now come to see her and the baby. She prays for the child. The Kostelnicka comes back without the baby and tells Jenufa that she has been in a fever for days and that the baby died. She also tells her that Steva refused to have anything to do with her or the baby, and advises her to marry Laca, a man she can trust. He knows everything and has forgiven her.

He returns and Jenufa yields to his entreaties and the urgings of the Kostelnicka and agrees to marry him. The Kostelnicka blesses them and curses Steva. The window blows open and she cries that the icy hand of death is forcing its way in.

ACT III

As in Act II, some months later. It is spring and Jenufa and Laca are about to be married. Although she is pleased, the Kostelnicka's health is weakened by her burden of guilt.

Jenufa tells Laca he deserves a better bride, but he repeats that he has forgiven her and reminds her of the wrong he did her, for which he intends to spend his life atoning. He tells her he is now reconciled with Steva, who is coming to the wedding with Karolka. When they arrive Jenufa gets the brothers to shake hands and tells Steva she is glad he has found true love.

The village girls sing a wedding song and the grandmother blesses Jenufa and Laca. Jano rushes in with the news that a baby's body has been found under the melting ice in the river. Jenufa recognises the clothes, but cannot understand how her baby was found in the river. The villagers think she has killed her child and are ready to stone her, but Laca defends her furiously. The Kostelnicka confesses, explaining that she committed the murder to save Jenufa from shame. Jenufa shrinks from her in horror. Realising that Steva is the father of the baby, Karolka refuses to marry him.

The Kostelnicka now realises that she had been thinking more of herself than of Jenufa, but Jenufa finds the strength to forgive her as she is led away by the mayor.

Jenufa offers to relase Laca, but he refuses to leave her and she realises that she now truly loves him. They prepare to face the future together.

Leos Janacek:
Katya Kabanova

A plot summary from Opera~Opera -- Australasia's independent monthly newspaper of the musical theatre, established in 1978.

Jan 95

ACT I

Scene 1. Outside the Kabanov house on the bank of the Volga

Kudryash is expatiating on the beauties of nature to the unimpressionable Glasha, a maid of the Kabanovs, when his employer, the rich merchant Dikoy, arrives with his nephew Boris, whom he is abusing for not working, though it is Sunday.

Dikoy stomps off when he learns that Glasha's mistress, Kabanicha, is not at home. Kudryash asks Boris why he puts up with his uncle's tyranny and Boris explains that he inherits money from his grandmother only if he is respectful to Dikoy. Even so, he would not stand it except that he is concerned for his sister.

As the servants prepare for the return of the Kabanov family from vespers, Boris confesses that he is in love with a married woman, Katya, wife of Kabanicha's son Tichon. He and Kudryash retire round a corner to watch the family. Kabanicha is ordering her son to go to Kazan and abusing him for preferring his wife to his mother. She spurns their attempts to pacify her and turns savagely on Katya. When she goes inside Varvara, her foster daughter, attacks Tichon for not standing up for Katya, whose plight she pities.

Scene 2. A room in the Kabanov's house

Katya and Varvara are sewing. Katya compares her carefree life before she was married to her present caged existence. She remembers happy childhood dreams when she used to fancy she could fly. But now she feels disturbed and confesses that she loves another man, expecting that Varvara will be shocked; but she laughs that she too has her sins.

Tichon comes through on his way to Kazan as his mother had ordered. Fearing desperately that something terrible will happen in his absence Katya vainly begs him either to stay or to take her with him. Kabanicha instructs Tichon to give Katya detailed rules of behavior for his absence and he reluctantly repeats her orders for Katya to sit quietly, honor her mother-in-law and keep her eyes to herself.

ACT II

Scene 1. A room in the Kabanovs' house, late afternoon

Kabanicha, Katya and Varvara are sewing. Kabanicha, as usual, is abusing Katya, this time for not being sufficiently prostrate with grief at her husband's departure. She stamps out and Varvara prepares to go for a walk in the garden (with the intention of meeting Kudryash). She offers Katya the key to the garden gate which she has taken secretly and tells Katya she will tell "him" to come to the gate if she sees him. Katya tries to resist and when Varvara has gone she prepares to throw the key away, but hearing voices she hides it in fright. When she recovers she decides that fate means her to keep the key and she resolves to meet Boris at any cost.

When she has gone Kabanicha and Dikoy come into the room, the latter drunk and begging Kabanicha to scold him, as she is the only person who knows how to put him in his place. She obliges.

Scene 2. Night in the garden

Kudryash, waiting for Varvara, is singing a folksong, accompanying himself on the guitar. Boris arrives and tells Kudryash that a girl he met in the road told him to come there. He admits it is Katya he has come to see. Varvara comes to meet Kudryash and they greet one another with a folk song and then slip off together. Boris envies them their lightness of heart and waits with anguish.

When Katya arrives she repulses him at first, dreading the sin of adultery and the ruin that will follow, but then admits that she has come only to meet him and falls into his arms.

Varvara and Kudryash return and advise them to take a walk together. Varvara will call when it is time to go in. Varvara assures Kudryash that there is no chance of Kabanicha discovering them. It is after one o'clock when they call Katya and Boris. Katya goes inside.

ACT III

Scene 1. A ruined building near the Volga, late afternoon

Kudryash and his friend Kuligin are sheltering from a storm. Dikoy comes in and has an argument with Kudryash about lightning conductors and storms. Dikoy explains that to him a storm is a punishment sent by God. The rain stops and Dikoy leaves.

Varvara comes in search of Boris who has just arrived. She tells him she is worried because Katya's husband has come back and Katya is showing signs of a guilty conscience and is likely to break down. Kabanicha already suspects something and watches her like a snake. The Kabanovs approach and Boris and Kudryash hide. Varvara tries in vain to calm Katya, who catches sight of Boris and becomes even more distraught.

As Tichon appears, accompanied by Kabanicha and Dikoy, she falls to her knees and confesses to him, despite his efforts to stop her. Kabanicha and Dikoy urge her to tell everything and she names Boris as her lover and runs off into the storm.

Scene 2. A lonely spot on the Volga at dusk

Tichon is trying to find Katya and declares that he still loves her. Varvara and Kudryash appear, and Varvara complains that Kabanicha has been locking her in her room. They decide to run off to Moscow together. Katya appears, regretting that her confession has done nothing but humiliate Boris and destroy her own honor. She wishes to bid Boris goodbye and pines for death.

As she longs for Boris he hears her voice and hastens to her. He assures her he is not angry with her for giving him away and tells her his uncle is sending him to Siberia. She wishes for a moment to go with him, but realises this is not to be. She tells him of Kabanicha's persecution and of Tichon's divided emotions, swinging between drunken anger and beatings and gentle forgiveness. The time for parting comes and she begs him earnestly to give alms to every beggar he meets and they bid each other farewell. Katya is haunted by the sound of voices and flings herself into the river.

Everyone hurries to the spot and Tichon is held back by Kabanicha who fears he may try to kill himself as well. He turns on her and accuses her of driving Katya to her death.

She is surprised at his attack but otherwise unmoved, as she quickly resumes her domineering manner; and when Katya's body is brought ashore she thanks the bystanders coldly and formally for their help.

Leos Janacek:
The Makropulos Secret

A plot summary from Opera~Opera -- Australasia's independent monthly newspaper of the musical theatre, established in 1978.

Jan 96

ACT I

The office of the lawyer Dr Kolenaty.

Vitek, Dr Kolenaty's clerk, mutters as he puts away the files of the case Gregor v Prus which has lasted nearly a hundred years and is now on the point of settlement. Albert Gregor, one of the parties to the case, arrives, eager to know the outcome, but Dr Kolenaty has not yet returned from court. Vitek's daughter Kristina arrives full of enthusiasm for the famous singer Emilia Marty, who is so stunning that she feels like giving up her own career as an opera singer. Gregor is unimpressed by her ecstatic account of Marty's beauty.

When Dr Kolenaty appears he is escorting Marty, who has come to discuss the case. She accepts Gregor's presence when she realises he is a party to it. Kolenaty explains that the case dates to the death of one Joseph Ferdinand Prus without a will in 1827, when his estate passed to a cousin. This was consented on behalf of a boy called Ferdinand Karl Gregor, whom Prus had apparently named as his heir, but there was confusion about the boy's real name and about Prus' real intentions.

Marty explains that the child's name was actually MacGregor and he was the illegitimate son of Prus by a singer named Ellian MacGregor. She explains that there is a secret drawer in the house of the other party to the case, Baron Prus (which he holds as part of the disputed estate), which contains a will leaving the estate to Ferdinand's illegitimate son. If they can get hold of this document Kolenaty will be able to win the case on behalf of Gregor, the last descendant, who is on the brink of losing it. Kolenaty is unwilling to try underhand means if Prus is uncooperative, until Gregor, who is impressed by Marty's story, threatens to take his case to another lawyer.

Kolenaty rushes out and Gregor, now under Marty's spell, tells her he loves her, but she is unmoved. She also refuses to tell him why she is interested in his case, though she does reveal that she wants to obtain certain documents in Greek which were left by Ferdinand Prus, and is angry when she finds he knows nothing of them.

Kolenaty returns with Baron Prus and the will and Prus congratulates Gregor. Marty is only interested in the other papers, which Prus says are still at his place. When he points out that there is no proof that the boy was actually the son of Ferdinand Prus, she promises to provide this.

ACT II

An empty stage in a theatre.

Marty has just finished a performance, discussed by a charlady and a stagehand. Prus is waiting for her. Kristina and Janek are in love, but Kristina, inspired by Marty's success, is thinking of concentrating on her career, to Janek's distress.

Marty fights off the last of her admirers and comes on to the stage. She thinks Prus is another, but he has other business with her. Janek is bowled over by Marty and becomes tongue-tied, to his father's embarrassment and her disgust.

Gregor, followed by Vitek, arrives with flowers and jewels for Marty, but she is angry with him for spending money she knows very well he does not have. She thrusts some at him, but he gives ut to Vitek. When Vitek compares her singing with that of singers of bygone days, she is rude about them all, obviously from personal knowledge.

The senile Hauk-Sendorf brings a bouquet, a tribute to Marty because she reminds him of the gipsy girl Eugenia Montez he had loved years ago. She answers him in Spanish, using the words of endearment the gipsy had used and he rushes out, delighted and convinced that Marty is Eugenia.

Kristina drags the besotted Janek away and Marty tells Gregor she has no time to talk to him. She is left alone with Prus, who interrogates her about her surprising knowledge of the documents in his house, but she refuses to tell him - she is only interested in a sealed envelope which is among the papers. He asks about Ellian MacGregor's identity, pointing out that she only signed her initials, E.M., which could just as well stand for Emilia Marty or Elina Makropulos. In fact this is the name given as that if the mother of the illegitimate child, in which case, Prus argues, Gregor is not the heir to the estate, so the envelope she is interested in must remain sealed until a Mr Makropulos turns up. He refuses to sell it to her and leaves.

Gregor continues to profess his devotion, and calls her cold and unfeeling when she takes no notice. He is even uninterested in her statement that to claim his inheritance he must have a document under the name of Makropulos. Her refusal to contemplate returning his love provokes him into threatening to kill her, but she is still unmoved, telling him many men have tried to kill her.

She falls asleep and he kisses her hand and leaves. She wakes up to find Janek gazing at her. She persuades him to steal an envelope from his father, marked "to be handed to my son Ferdinand", but Prus, who has been listening, tells him not to bother. Prus agrees to bring the envelope himself to Marty that night.

ACT III

A hotel room.

Marty and Prus emerge from her bedroom. He hands over the envelope, which she tears open eagerly, but complains that she was so cold he feels inadequately rewarded for handing it over. A servant brings the news that Janek has killed himself, but Marty is unconcerned, even when Prus tells her he has committed suicude for love of her.

Hauk-Sendorf arrives to carry Marty off with him. At first astonished, she agrees, but is prevented by the arrival of several people: Hauk-Sendorf's doctor, who takes him away and Prus, Gregor, Kolenaty, Vitek and Kristina, who have come to find out the truth about her. Promising to tell them the truth when she is dressed, she retires to her room. They open her dressing case and find a seal with the mongram E.M., as used on the MacGregor documents, Hauk-Sendorf's family crest and other papers relating to Eugenia Montez as well as Elsa Müller and Ekaterina Myshkin, and a letter written by Elina Makropulos.

When she returns, Marty is tipsy, waving a whisky bottle. She tells them her name is Elina Makropulos. She was born in 1575 in Crete, where her father was physician to the Emperor Rudolf II. It was she, under the name of Ellian MacGregor, who was the mistress of Ferdinand Prus and consequently Albert Gregor's ancestress, so she knew what was in the sealed envelope because she had seen it before it was sealed. She had lent him the Makropulos secret and it is this she has been trying to get back - the formula which has enabled her to live for over 300 years.

At the request of the emperor her father had devised a potion which would produce an extended life-span, but the emperor insisted he try it out first on his 16-year-old daughter. When she went into a coma, her father was imprisoned as a swindler, but she recovered and escaped with the fromula.

The others at last realise that she is speaking the truth: she is Elina Makropulos and she is over 300 years old. She now no longer wants the formula, claiming that her soul has died within her. She offers the paper to Kristina, promising that she will be able to become a famous singer like Marty, but Kristina burns the paper as Marty collapses.

Alan John:
The Eighth Wonder

A plot summary from Opera~Opera -- Australasia's independent monthly newspaper of the musical theatre, established in 1978.

Oct 95

ACT I

Scene 1. Between Earth and Sky

The action is introduced by Earth and Sky.

1955: In the teeth of opposition from his cabinet, the Premier announces his plans for an opera house - to put the city on the map - with an international competition to choose the design.

Scene 2. A Ceremony of the Aztecs

1456-1956: The Aztecs sacrifice a victim while the Architect moves among them unnoticed, encouraged by Earth and Sky as he finds inspiration, seeing a vision of curves against the clouds at the top of a flight of stairs.

Scene 3. The Conservatorium

1957: Alexandra's singing lesson is interupted by Stephen with a mesage that the Maestro wants to see her. Magda, her teacher, believes she has a great future and wants her to go to Europe, but Stephen, a promising bassoonist, wants her to stay with him. The Maestro invites Alexandra and Stephen to join him at the announcement of the winner of the competition to build a new opera house.

Scene 4. The Announcement

1957: The Premier announces that a Danish architect has won the competition. The plans are displayed, to a mixed reaction from socialites and art-lovers - more negative than positive, though Alexandra is inspired and dreams of singing in the building.

Scene 5. Decisions

A forest in Denmark: The architect's daughter tells him he has won the competition and they look forward to travelling to the other side of the world. They remain on stage as Alex and Stephen appear dressed for the beach. Alexandra promises to stay with Stephen rather than go overseas. Magda is displeased, but the Maestro assures her that all will turn out for the best and she agrees to continue teaching Alex.

Scene 6. Haste

1958, The construction site: The Premier watches enthusiastically as the old building on the opera house site is demolished, but the Engineer has reservations about the viability of the designs and refuses to give the Premier an estimate of the cost, as there are too many unknown factors.

The Premier plucks a figure (£3 million) from the air, determined to get the building started before the election, so that a new Government will not be able to cancel the project. He has also determined to finance it by a public lottery, so strictly speaking it is not a state building. The Premier is in pain, but says it is only an ulcer.

A musical transition leads to the dedication ceremony. The Premier's introductory remarks that the building is above party politics are greeted with derision by the press. They also regard the Architect, present with his family, with some suspicion, though he is feted by the workers and members of society. He remembers the Aztec ceremony which first inspired his design. The Architect and the Premier lay the foundation plaque. When the crowd has dispersed the Premier returns with the Engineer to look at the construction, but the Premier collapses and is carried off on a stretcher.

Scene 7. In Perspective

1962: In the backyard of the Masons' house Alex, heavily pregnant, and Stephen are at a barbecue at her parents' house. Stephen and her father, Ken, are in agreement that the opera house is likely to be a white elephant - its cost has jumped to £5 million since the death of the Premier, but Ken is also angry because he feels Alex has sacrificed her career by staying in Australia; he blames Stephen. Left alone Alex and Stephen also reflect that she has missed her opportunity.

Scene 8. Music of the Spheres

1962: There is a storm on the site as the Architect and the Engineer argue about the viability of the designs, though they agree that the project is special. The Maestro warns the Architect that some members of the opera house committee are having doubts about details of the design and his ability to finish the building.

The Architect is unconcerned, even about the prospect of a change of government, though the Maestro's comments on the difficulties of the roof construction rankle, as he has been unable to solve that problem. In his frustration he knocks over a bowl of oranges. The voices of Earth and Sky comment as he picks up an orange, becomes aware of its shape and realises that this is the roof shape he is looking for.

ACT II

Scene 9. The reception

1963: A cocktail party takes place on the royal yacht, Britannia. There is discussion of the opera house and the Politician indicates that if his party gains government in two years' time, the project will be viewed less favorably. Alexandra sings for the Queen and tells the Architect that she is waiting to sing in his opera house. The Politician looks forward to cutting the architect down to size.

Scene 10. The Bear Pit

1965, Parliament House: Amid heated debate on the opera house, the politician claims that it will be the eighth and most expesnive wonder of the world if it ever gets finished. The Government spokesman reminds him that the building is funded by a lottery, but the Politician suggests that the Government will lose office over the issue in the forthcoming election, threatening to cut the project down to size when in office, sweeping aside the Government spokesman's assertion that the opera house should be above politics.

Scene 11. The Marriage Bed

1965: Alex and Stephen , who have been to a Sutherland-Williamson performance, quarrel about politics and the opera house. She reproaches him with having voted for the Philistines and not believing in the future of the opera house. She looks forward to the formation of an opera company, while he supports the claims of the orchestra to the main hall. She runs out and finds herself at the opera house, dangerously climbing the unfinished structure.

Scene 12. Construction

1965: The construction workers are about to plant a flag on top of the completed sails in the presence of an official tour party. The Architect begs for more funds, but the Politician is unmoved. The Engineer reproves the Architect for his rashness and they continue to quarrel over the technical details of the construction.

Alex's voice is heard from above and a worker rescues her from danger, still in her evening dress. She and the Architect commiserate with one another's frustrations, but he advises her to go home to her husband, despite their differences, as she still loves him. He tells her he is convinced he will soon crack the problem of the ceiling.

Scene 13. Ultimatum

1966, The Premier's office: The Politician (now the Premier) demands answers from the Engineer, who explains that there are two problems, one being the need to have the same hall for concerts and opera and the other the Architect's conviction that he can finish the building without outside help, despite the fact that his plans for the interiors are an engineering nightmare. The Politician asks the Engineer if he would stay with the project if the Architect were to go and he agrees.

The Politician confronts the Architect with his insistence that the building be finished, but the Architect refuses to compromise. He resigns and the resignation is accepted. The Politician announces that the building will be finished in four years.

Scene 14. Diva

1973, A dressing room in the opera house: Alexandra is about to appear in the opera house. The maestro welcomes her back from her international career and she remembers how she has always longed to sing in this building. She reproaches him with his part in defacing a masterpiece.

Scene 15. Ceremony

1973: Alex sings the role of a princess in a production of The Feathered Serpent, in which the Aztecs prepare to kill a sacrificial victim. As in the first scene, the Architect appears on stage, oblivious of his surroundings, along with Earth and Sky, remembering his vision.


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