Setting: Russia, turn of the century.
A lecture that is ostensibly about the dangers of tobacco becomes a forum through which the speaker vents his frustrations with his life. As he randomly discusses one thought after another, a complete picture of his unhappy existence unfolds. The main difficulty for this henpecked man is his domineering wife. As he describes his duties, which includes running their household and teaching all the classes in her school, his confidence builds, and he fantasizes about running away. But, when his wife enters the wings, his moment of independence is over. He lamely finishes the lecture, trying to pretend that he has merely informed his audience of the harmfulness of tobacco.
Courtesy of Recent American Opera:
a production guide by Rebecca Hodell Kornick