Project Description

OPERA

Beethoven’s Slippers
A monodrama in one act
Libretto by Douglas Atwill

Cast: The Woman, female voice (dramatic soprano or dramatic mezzo-soprano)

Synopsis: The setting is the living room of an adobe house in Santa Fe, NM on December 16th—Beethoven’s birthday—in the mid 1980’s. The Woman, a wealthy Southerner who lives alone, is entertaining some friends in the late afternoon with martinis. (The friends are never seen, or they may be the on-stage quartet and pianist.)

The Woman is reminiscing about Charles, the great love of her life, and their time together in Paris, then in Santa Fe. As she had given Charles their “two-seater” as a parting gift, the only memento she has are the slippers that once belonged to Beethoven. An amateur pianist, she plays a Beethoven sonata with everyone seated to “a small rain of applause” when she has finished. Someone takes a snapshot of the soiree, “the fresh-faced crowd” surrounding the Woman “with raised glasses of white burgundy, forefingers pointing down to the slippers.” Some months later as she is reflecting on the soiree, she says to imaginary friends who had gathered in her home that she “sent Charles and his farmland heiress a snapshot of the soiree.” The Woman remembers her friends had said the evening celebrating Beethoven’s birthday “was magic, but Charles never wrote back.” Librettist Douglas Atwill writes: “There is throughout the story a sense of sadness that she never let go of the memory of an unsatisfactory lover or went on to another. She holds on to a gentle rancor right to the end, deeper than her words would suggest.”

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