THE RAT LAND
a tragi-comic chamber opera in 4 scenes
Gordon Beeferman – composer
Charlotte Jackson – librettist
(photo: Fadi Kheir)
“The Rat Land” chronicles the disintegration of a troubled and eccentric family. The plot centers on their adolescent daughter, Karen, coming of age as best she can amidst a post-Cold War American Grotesque. Caught between her nightmarish home life and a near-psychotic fantasy world of her own devising, she faces grown-up problems of violence, isolation, madness, and death.
Excerpt 1: The dinner table.
Excerpt 1: Karen's soliloquy.
Karen: Laurie Rubin
André: Marcus DeLoach
Gary: Andrew Catalano
Louise: Martha Sullivan
Theodore: Michael Douglas Jones
About “The Rat Land”
The opera is 2 hours in length, and is scored for eight singers and a chamber orchestra of 13 players.
SCENE: A cross-section of a small suburban home in the American Midwest. As the action progresses the house becomes more squalid and dilapidated. click here for the synopsis
THEODORE (The Father): A household autocrat; formerly employed in the Cold War-era military-industrial complex, now unemployed and a chronic invalid — or malingerer.
LOUISE (The Mother): A middle-aged matron in serious denial; her life is about keeping up appearances, as much for her own benefit as for that of her Church, bridge club, etc.
KAREN (The Daughter): About 14 years old, shy, withdrawn, and disfigured, she blends acute observation with a fantasy life bordering on schizophrenia.
ANDRÉ (Her older brother): About 17 years old, he works evenings at a local casino, but secretly aspires to be a dancer. He conceals both a drinking problem and his homosexuality.
GARY (Her younger brother): A twelve-year-old autistic savant. Initially mischievous and funny, he turns increasingly violent.
LESLIE: A schoolmate of Karen’s.
MRS. SCHWAB: A nosy neighbor.
MR. BEAME: Drunken city housing inspector.
Excerpts from production of the Prologue and Scene 1 at the Improvised and Otherwise Festival, April 1, 2006, at the BRIC Studio, Brooklyn, NY, directed by Beth Greenberg; Anti-Social Music conducted by Clay Greenberg
Laurie Rubin as Karen
“Hush…hush…” Michael Douglas Jones as Theodore
The dinner table: Louise (Martha Sullivan) and Theodore (Michael Douglas Jones)
Clay Greenberg conducting Anti-Social Music