Music by Sidney Marquez Boquiren
Libretto by Daniel Neer
You can hear. Do you listen?
Race, identity and acceptance in America: Past, Present. Future.
“Opera doesn’t need to be obviously relevant to be important. But when one does take on a particularly topical subject, it’s nice to see it doing it justice.”
– Anne Midgette, The Washington Post Click here to read the full review
“Daniel Neer, the librettist, concentrates on the relationships, not the politics, per se, and Marquez Boquiren’s score supports those emotional twists and turns. It is not a polemic as much as a tribute to the journey we are on together comparing our American passion for baseball and quest for social/racial justice.”
– Gillian Drake, DCTheatreScene Click here to read the full review
Images by C. Stanley Photography
ABOUT INDEPENDENCE EVE
Comprised of three unrelated scenes, each of which takes place on July 3 in an unspecified American city, Independence Eve focuses on the stories of three black males (baritone), and three white males (tenor), who struggle with identity and acceptance amidst race issues that span one hundred years of the American experience.
Independence Eve is a study of black and white America, offering commentary on the intricacies of race relations and the insidious and persistent stain of racism that has remained consistent throughout American history. The characters in each scene are products of their upbringing, and constrained, to varying degrees, by outside influences and ideals that shape their attitudes regarding race, masculinity, education and religion in their respective generations.
The setting for each scene is the benign location of a single park bench in three different urban locations; the characters in each scene try to connect over a shared love of baseball, with varying degrees of success.
Scene 1: “Seventh Inning Stretch”
Lou, on break from a local four-star hotel where he is the chief porter, is spending his usual lunch break on his favorite shady bench. Accompanied by a small transistor radio, he has tuned into a baseball game, which draws the interest of a Policeman walking the beat, eager to find a bit of shade in the July heat. They share stilted small talk: about baseball, the stifling heat and the frequent race riots occurring in their city. But the casual conversation soon comes to an abrupt halt when one man expresses his anger, confusion and pain about the changes happening in his community, exposing his fear and bewilderment during dawn of the civil rights era.
Scene 2: “Full Count” (“Stop and Frisk”)
Joe (a Caucasian man) and Sean (and African-American man) have been friends for years. They grew up together in an affluent suburb, went to high school together, attended the same Ivy League school and pledged the same fraternity. As they meet for lunch in the park, Joe expresses his concern for Sean’s wellbeing after a recent brush with the police. A few days earlier Sean became a victim of a random search by police, a “stop and frisk” procedure conducted because of a “reasonable suspicion”. Sean describes his frustration at Joe for not understanding the impact the event has had on his life, and as both men struggle to find meaning in the incident, their friendship is tested as the conversation turns to aspects of race that have changed Sean’s way of looking at the world.
Scene 3: “Benched”
Max and Phillip have finished a game and are waiting to be picked up by their parents. Little League is still an American fixture in the year 2063, but whole a lot else has changed. A global government called ‘The Federation’ is now the new world order, the Polar Ice cap has melted, citizens are chipped at age 10 for identification purposes, and the public school system has become obsolete, leaving children on their own for a nationwide exam that will determine which of two basic career tracks best suits them. The stakes are very high for Max and Phillip, who struggle to come to grips with the overwhelming pressure to succeed in a world that is increasingly more competitive. Race plays an enormous role in the likely outcome of these two American boys, but like everything else in the future, racism is no longer just a black and white issue.
Brandon D. Snook
Conducted by Robert Wood
Directed by Shaun Patrick Tubbs
Scenic and Projection Design by Steven C. Kemp
Lighting Design by Alberto Segarra
Costume Design by Kristina Martin
Developed in American Opera Projects’ First Chance and Composers & the Voice programs, through the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.