Tome : a chamber opera in one act
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Tome, a chamber opera in one act on a libretto by Maile Meloy, tells the story of Laura, a lawyer whose client, Sawyer, is suing for a tort claim following a debilitating head injury he received while working construction, leaving him with a chimerical grasp on reality and a quickly eroding marriage. When his claim is denied, Sawyer is thrown into a fugue-state, taking a hostage at gunpoint and forcing Laura to choose between helping him escape, and betraying him to the police. The conflict between Laura’s compassion for Sawyer and her ethical obligations form the main source of drama in the story. Tome occupies the middle-ground between musical theater and opera, presenting a dramatic scene that, unlike opera, integrates spoken text and singing, yet eschews the dialogue/music polarization of musical theater. Additionally, the singers play specific characters within the story, but also stand outside of it, adding “back-up” vocals to underline important dramatic points. The result is an intimate and theatrical kind of storytelling, rather than the presentational, linear style of traditional musical theater or opera.