Composed by Stephen Eddins
Libretto by Michael O’Brien
with Stephen Eddins
Based on the short story by Eudora Welty
April 30 to May 8, 2022
at the Keegan Theatre, Washington D.C.
Why I Live at the P.O. is a delightful addition to the opera canon which takes the comic masterpiece by beloved author Eudora Welty and combines it with classic and contemporary American musical styles to tell the story of a supremely relatable family. UrbanArias is proud to be commissioning the completion of this work at a time when many families have been experiencing “togetherness” in a whole new way.
On the Fourth of July, Sister’s uneventful life in China Grove is interrupted by the arrival of her sister, Stella-Rondo, who has just left her husband, Mr. Whitaker and returned to the family home in Mississippi. Sister had briefly dated Mr. Whitaker before Stella-Rondo became engaged to him. Stella-Rondo arrives accompanied by Shirley-T., a little girl she claims is her legally adopted daughter (but who Sister thinks looks just like their grandfather, Papa Daddy). The rest of the family is overjoyed at Stella-Rondo’s return and does not share Sister’s suspicion that Shirley-T. is actually Stella-Rondo’s biological daughter. When Sister questions Shirley-T.’s dubious parentage, Stella Rondo begins to turn the rest of family against her, starting with Mama, then Papa Daddy, and finally their eccentric Uncle Rondo. At the end of the day, Sister has had enough. She collects her belongings and moves into the Post Office, where she is Postmistress.
This interpretation by Michael O’Brien and Stephen Eddins sees the character of Sister split into two actors. One is the Sister of the present, recalling the terrible day and the injustices she suffered at the hands of her family. The other is the Sister of the past, whom we observe in the drama, seeing her longsuffering service and devotion to her family be completely disregarded upon the return of Stella Rondo. Of course, the truth lies somewhere between these two perspectives, and the audience is left to decide whether Sister is truly “getting along fine.”
Discover the full cast of eccentric characters in Eudora Welty’s short story HERE.