"Love and Idols"

A Jewish Opera
Composed by Barry Drogin
Libretto by Barry Drogin
First Performed : New York City, July 1984

Cast of Characters

Death: Operatic bass/baritone
Susan: child soprano
Adam/Moses/Solomon: theatre tenor
Eve/Bride/Sheba: theatre low alto
Orchestration: Solo grand piano


Scene 1

Staging a mock funeral with a shoe box, Susan sings an opening aria, lamenting the loss of her favorite doll. The aria ends with her strong proclamation, "Death, take me, too!" Shortly thereafter, the Angel of Death appears, ostensibly to take Susan's doll, but not Susan. He scolds her for over-reacting, singing a major solo aria describing Biblical characters who had also lost their loves. Susan remains unconvinced and angers the Angel.

Scene 2

In anger, the Angel of Death magically transports Susan to the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve, sitting under the Tree of Knowledge, sing a duet about how boring it is to be the only two people around. Adam leaves, but Eve runs into Susan and threatens to eat her. Susan points to the tree and its Forbidden Fruit, suggesting Eve eat it instead. After a short trio with the Angel of Death concerning the Tree, Susan launches into a song, soon joined by Eve, about doing as she pleases. When Eve is persuaded to take a piece of Fruit from the Tree, it instantly disappears and the Garden is replaced by desert. Eve runs off screaming.

Scene 3

The Angel of Death sings an aria about Egypt, slaves and tombs, but Susan is not moved. Moses appears, followed by his new Bride, as Susan and the Angel hide behind a rock. The Bride bickers with Moses about his mission and lack of attentions. Moses envisions Israel as a "Dream of Eden," which draws Susan from hiding. The argument intensifies, with Moses ending with an angry exhortation, "Stay in Egypt!" After, Moses and his Bride disappear, and the Angel of Death sings a patter song about the list of people he must kill that day. Susan is not on the list.

Scene 4

The throne room of King Solomon is revealed. King Solomon enters, pontificating. He is soon joined by the Queen of Sheba, who brings many presents (carried on by Susan and the Angel of Death). King Solomon hides, but is soon revealed, at which point King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba and the Angel of Death sing "Love and Idols," then disappear.

Scene 5

Susan is alone on stage, as in Scene 1. She sings a long aria, comprised of partial reprises of much of the opera's previous music, in which she thinks about what has happened and decides that love and dolls are not worth dying over. If only the night would end! She makes an offering of her doll and midnight comes. In keeping with the comic nature of the piece, the Angel of Death reappears with a new list, informs Susan that she is on it, and drags her off, screaming. As an Epilogue after the bows, the quartet of singers perform an a cappella Hebrew prayer to warmly close the piece.