Act I Scene I, A Street in Midtown
A surrealistic urban setting with resemblance to NYC. There are political propaganda artworks everywhere, featuring the imperial Rat as the ruler and the little "Orange Book" as the bible that all citizens must abide.
Townspeople (including rebels with red, white and blue head ribbons) bear gifts as they gather in front of a house. They hear the agonized cries of a woman giving birth. The townspeople accompany the cries by singing about the torment of the Rat's ruthless dictatorship, announcing the despicable nature of the O.B. (with quotes) and by calling for an armed uprising to oust the Zodiac Animals from power. Disguised as a wolf in the crowd, a Sheep spies on the crowd and takes careful notes.
Pine and Deer-cry announce their arrival. Singing in perfect consonance, they promote themselves as loving troubadours who can heal wounds and reignite dying spirits with supreme music. The rebel music distracts Pine. He impulsively steps forward to join the rebel chorus. Deer-cry cautiously pulls him back and warns him to stay away from Politics. Pine reluctantly complies.
The labor cry climaxes with a final, agonized scream that silences all the other music. Suspenseful music holds the audience until a stillborn child is revealed. Pine and Deer-cry ply their magical craft on the infant's corpse.
Pine and Deer-cry's Healing Duet: Variation 1. Towards the end of the duet, Pine ties a golden ribbon on the baby's head. As the duet ends, we hear resonant and continuous infant cry. The townspeople joyously celebrate the miracle as Pine and Deer-dry are showered with coins and flowers.
An injured rebel interrupts the celebration. Rebels are needed downtown to turn back an attack from the Rat's stormtroopers. Pine is once again eager to join the rebels. Deer-cry again attempts to pull him away. The couple quarrels. This time, Pine disregarded Deer-cry: "We don't get to pick whom we heal. To sing is to serve. To serve, to live! Meet you there!"
Deer-cry's Aria 1. As Pine and townspeople all left to aid the battle, Deer-cry alone sings about her love and devotion to Pine and how it pains her to quarrel him. She sees Pine's enthusiasm as flawed but she desires his company. By the end of the Aria, she decides to follow him to the battlefield.
Act I Scene II, The Execution Downtown
The streets run with blood. Corpses strew the landscape. The ferocious Zodiac Tiger rounds up the surviving rebels, including Pine. The Rat condemns each rebel for Terrorism and sentences them all to death. A guillotine rolls onto the stage.
Defiant to the end, the doomed rebels and spectators sing Chorus Number 1: “Go to Hell!” as they march to the guillotine. The voices are silenced one by one. Pine doesn’t know the song. He searches for Deer-cry in the crowd.
The chorus song ends with the beheading of the last rebel. “And You,” the Rat turns to Pine: “For aiding terrorism. Last words!”
Pine calls out: “Deer-cry!” His magnificent voice travels across the sky. Deer-cry answers innocently a few blocks away (off stage), unaware that Pine is mounting the guillotine. “Deer-cry!” Pine calls out again. This time, Deer-cry answers by initiating their Healing Duet (still off stage). Pine answers with his phrase in the Duet. The couple sings their farewell back and forth: Pine walking closer and closer to his execution, Deer-cry remaining unaware of Pine’s situation.
Deer-cry finally appears on stage, but she is in such a hurry that she needs to fix her makeup before she sees Pine. She continues the duet while fixing her make up at a separate part of the stage. Suddenly, Pine stopped answering. Deer-cry repeats her phrase several times but still no answer. She puts away her makeup and turn around the corner, only to see Pine’s head, separated from his body, and his blood streaming down the guillotine.
Deer-cry let out a horrifying scream.
Act I, Scene III
Deer-cry soullessly wonders on the deserted Highland Park. One moment, she sings a fragmented Aria to comfort herself. (Mimicking the sensibility of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder - Oft denk' ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen!) Another moment, she attempts to commit suicide but lacks the courage.
Pine, now a ghost, follows Deer-cry everywhere she goes. The two are still in Duet but are separated by life and death: Pine answers Deer-cry but Deer-cry can’t hear his voice.
A demented and homeless woman (African-American mezzo) passes by and laughs at Deer-cry’s suicide attempts...
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Work in Development
an opera in four scenes
art work by Liu Yuanshou