An opera about war-affected children

Suitable for ages 8 and up

Friday, June 20, 7:30
Saturday, June 21, 11 & 3
Discusion/q&a to follow Friday show

Inspired by a true story of two youths caught in tHe crossfire of war.

Featuring a 25-voice Winnipeg youth chorus

Sung in english

Approximately one hour

Composer: Mervyn Burtch
Librettiat: Mark Morria
Director: Katherine Twaddle
Conductor: Tadeuaz Biernacki
Chorus Director: Carolyn Boyes
Set/Costume Designer: Sheldon Johnson
Lighting Designer: Scott Henderson

Plot Summary

Section 1

Jason and Hanna are playing in the middle of the street. They are worried by the way people are becoming bitter enemies and about the fighting that is coming closer to the town. They don,t understand why.

Jason's parents come out of their house, see the youth playing, and hurry over, pulling Jason away. Hanna manages to whisper to Jason to meet her later. Hanna's parents hurry out of their house. The two sets of parents abuse each other on ethnic/religious lines, but without any reference to any specific group. They make it clear that the two youth are to have nothing to do with each other. Jason's parents return to their house with Jason.

Hanna questions her parents. The two families were friends. What has happened, why can't she see Jason? Her parents "explain" the changed situation by saying that their friendsh ip was wrong and that Jason belongs to people who do not deserve to live in the town.

Section 2

Off stage: youth chorus, sounds of argument, crying. Jason and Hanna sneak out of their houses to meet, but this time instead of meeting in the middle of the street and playing, they meet in the sh adow of the street. They discuss what their parents have told them. They decide to remain friends whatever happens.

As they do so, two gangs of youth appear from opposite sides. They castigate Jason and Hanna, respectively, and pull them into their gangs. The two gangs taunt each other, mirroring the parents of Jason and Hanna in their own fash ion. Two kids eventually get into a fight in front of their gangs. In this section, Jason and Hanna are still troubled by this hatred, but they are now under peer press ure to join sides.

Distant small-arms fire. The parents from each side tell the youths to go home, as it is getting dangerous on the street. Two gangs exit in opposite directions, still taunting each other.

Section 3

Jason's mother is left alone on her doorstep. She sings about her fears for her house and the safety of her family, but not about the underlying madness of the situation, which she does not recognize. Gunfire still heard.

Section 4

Jason's gang returns. They're now geared up for action, aping the movements of soldiers entering a hostile town (moving along the sides of houses in single line, being hushed by the leader, etc.).

Jason has now been convinced of the need for hating the opposing side, and wish es to prove himself to his peers. The gang cross es the street and breaks the windows of the houses on the opposite side.

The opposing gang issues out, pulling a reluctant Hanna with them. The two gangs take up positions on either side of the street, but now they are more serious than their previous encounter. They set up barricades and hurl objects across the street.

Hanna has had enough. She asks them what they are all doing, pointing out individuals on each side who were once friends, saying they must stop this. Jason, from the other side, now taunts her, saying his friendship was a mistake and sh e is as bad as the rest of them. Strong support from kids. Uproar.

Hanna is still determined to try and stop the confrontation. She steps out beyond her barricade into the street, and again appeals to both sides to stop. A child from Jason,s gang pulls out a gun, and shoots. Hanna falls, hit. Th ere is stunned silence from the youth, and then cheers from Jason,s side, congratulations to the child with the gun, and fascination with the gun itself. Still gunfire in distance.

Jason, however, is horrified, seeing the actual results of his hatred. He breaks through his gang, and runs to the fallen Hanna. There is a very short duet between the two, cut off by a gun shot from Hanna's gang. Jason is hit and falls. Cheers from the other gang. The guns are pointed at the opposing gangs. The youth take cover. Jason is dead, but Hanna is still alive, and is taken out on a stretcher. The youth fall silent - the horror of the situation is dawning on them.

Jason's father rushes up, venting grief but also anger and spite at the opposite side. Jason,s father is angry, abusive. Jason's mother, however, is distraught; her deepest fears have come true. The reality of the situation causes her to take pause and then think of Hanna's parents and the distress they must also be feeling. Gradually, the youth from both groups join together for closing chorus, with a positive message. The opera closes.

Room 1060, 555 Main Street, Wpg. R3B 1C3
(Lower Level, Centennial Concert Hall)
phone: 204.942.7479 | fax: 204.949.0377
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