An original American Opera
Original Story/Opera Libretto by Craig WichMusic by Sam Headrick
Program Notes for the 11th Annual Fall Fringe Festival "Boston"
In this evening’s performance, you will see a condensed version of the opera “Hostage”. It will include scenes from Act I and Act II in its entirety. The story is both timely and timeless. In essence, it is about communication and forgiveness. How we treat one another, and the ways in which we hold each other “hostage” in our domestic lives, is expressed in the international world of nations and states and their unwillingness to communicate and find forgiveness.
In large part, the opera is told through the dreams of Jonathan Orfeo, who is being held hostage, and his wife Laura, who is trying to free him. The plot interweaves their personal struggles with the current hostage crisis, focusing specifically on the international issue of hostage taking, while relating it to the intra and interpersonal relationship of Jonathan and Laura.
Jonathan and Laura’s inability to communicate has fractured their relationship. In essence, they are held “hostage” from one another emotionally. Likewise, we find nations feuding and acting out in hostile ways to satisfy “historic rites”.
Relationships are often based on an unspoken code. In that code, control and power is wielded through a lack of communication. Patterns of behavior and treatment of one another become habitual. Then, before you know it, your ability to communicate is fractured, and the relationship continues in a predictable dance of usefulness. In “Hostage”, these patterns of behavior are seen as ancient and similar, whether you are dealing with individuals or nations. In Jonathan’s dream, in Act 1, Laura asks Jonathan “Why did you forget to love me?” to which he replies, “Habit, I suppose”.
Likewise, the power brokers on both sides benefit from Jonathan’s incarceration. Jonathan is a threat, because he represents someone who will unite them. Neither side, however, wants to sincerely communicate and find forgiveness. The conflicts between both nations are “ancient rhymes”. Over time, this behavior has become predictable, and it is the very foundation from which their power is derived. So, Jonathan becomes “a useful pawn who plays his part”, as expressed by the Guard, who then goes on to say, “We are strangers and friends…brothers and family…hiding in the shrouded mystery of memories and ancient rhymes that haunt the nursery…and set us to dancing predictable lives.”
Throughout the story, Laura continues to engage the power brokers to find a way to free her husband. Jonathan, having been “stripped of his dignity”, dreams of Laura and seeks communication, reconciliation and forgiveness, “Enter in and seek me out….leave no stone unturned….with every prying gives my heart to loose the frozen fears…like snow that shivers when it meets the sun…that melts like falling tears”.
The opera begins and ends with the same question… “Was forgiveness lost when silence fell…when tears dried up…and we buried deep in the womb dreamt in solitude?”
In the story, Jonathan Orfeo, an ambassador and statesman, has been taken hostage by a group of terrorists. His wife, Laura, diligently works to secure his release. To do so, she must circumvent a maze of political bureaucracy. The bureaucrat’s and the hostage takers, alike, are duplicitous in the intrigue, and the finale is met with….Well, I can’t tell you. To find out the conclusion, you will need to come to the performance of the opera in its entirety….Soon!