Inspired by the Iran-Contra affair and based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the work is the story of an American civil engineer, Man, who covertly constructs a giant hydroelectric dam in the mountains of Tibet for the Chinese government. An encounter with a Buddhist potter and seven mysterious spirits forces him to re-examine his view of the world, one of Western values, and acknowledge the devastating consequences of his actions. Suddenly, at the potter's command, the man collapses and the spirits begin to recreate his office in Tibet, creating an overlay of the two cultures. The spirits intend to use his own Western ideas of justice to expose his plan, put him on trial, and execute him. The spirits mock the man and force him to question his way of life. After a failed appeal, he is executed. At this point, the potter announces the beginning of the Bardo experience, and the man is led through a journey that ultimately leads to his own spiritual rebirth.
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OPERA America/Opera.ca Grants Awarded
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|GRANT NAME||YEAR||Opera for a New America ||1991||Opera for the Eighties and Beyond ||1987||Opera for the Eighties and Beyond ||1984||
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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)
Number of Acts
Long, legato, singable vocal lines; use of American pop, gospel, rock, and rap influences; choral spirituals
Vocal & Musical Forces
Nine vocalists and computer synthesizers
Paul Garth Pruitt as The Man, Stephen Kalm as Dark Angel/The Potter; Nancy Lillis as Dark Angel/The Wife, Cynthia Lohman as Dark Angel/Lawyer, Carole Aveline as Dark Angel/Reporter, Marvette Knight as Dark Angel/Teacher, Dan Dressen as Dark Angel/Soldier, Merle Fristad as Dark Angel/Congressman, James Williams as Dark Angel/Preacher