a chamber opera about real estate
in two 30-minute acts
Music by Beth Wiemann
Libretto by Ron Singer
Setting: coast of Maine
Cast of characters:
Mary, a waitress “from away” (soprano)
Constance Raines, Mary’s landlord/employer, (mezzo-soprano)
Lucy Leechfield (mezzo-soprano) and
Dick "Deeds" Gross (tenor), real estate developers
Turning Buck, land agent for the local tribe (baritone)
Order of DEEDS numbers:
- Overture - instrumental
- What a singular pleasure (Mary) –
- Cherish him (Constance, Mary)
- helicopter music 1 - instrumental
- Phobia Duo (Leechfield, Gross)
- Two Fair Acres (Constance, Mary)
- Let there be (Leechfield, Gross)
- helicopter music 2 – (Constance, Mary)
- Names (Mary)
- Full Covenants (Leechfield, Gross)
11a & b. Where Do I Sign & Too Late Now (Turning Buck)
- Finale, Act I – Mary, Constance, Leechfield, Gross, Turning Buck
- Engagement Party – offstage voices
- Realtor and a Natural Man (Gross, Mary)
- The Point is (Leechfield, Gross, Constance – Mary and Turning Buck look on)
- How horribly unfair (Constance, Mary, offstage voices)
- Fate Hangs in the Balance (the Cranes/chainsaws)
- Never Mind the Phobias (Leechfield, Gross)
- Partners in Crime (Leechfield, Gross, Turning Buck)
- But, but, but (Turning Buck, Mary, Leechfield, Gross)
- Let these Sea Fleas Flee (same as previous number)
- Finale Act II - Turning Buck, Mary, Constance
Mary greets the lovely morning on the shore while Turning Buck offers cynical asides. He leaves, and Constance joins Mary to express her hopes that Mary might marry Gully. Gross and Leechfield survey the land from a helicopter and celebrate the fact that that their own “interlocking” phobias enable them to succeed in business. Rushing matters, Constance anticipates an engagement party in the Fall, to coincide with Halloween, and wonders if the family might be able to buy the unoccupied, contiguous plot. Still hovering, Leechfield and Gross envision condominiums on both parcels. Mary expresses her antipathy to the marriage, suggesting that even his name implies Gully’s spousal unsuitability.
Later that day, back in their office, the developers exult that the courts have recently awarded ownership of the whole point to the Pemagustaquoddy nation. Turning Buck signs over the Raines land for a large bribe. Alone, he laments his part in the decline of his people’s way of life. Time passes, and, as the act ends, everyone expresses their hopes or fears while they gird themselves for the big party: Mary dreads the engagement, Constance worries because Gully has disappeared, the developers anticipate spoiling the occasion by flaunting the new deed, and Turning Buck aptly anticipates a big charade.
At the party, the guests toast Mary and her missing fiancé. Ignoring Leechfield’s warning, “Deeds” Gross gets drunk and comes on to Mary, but his efforts fail because his wooing rhetoric keeps lapsing into real-estate jargon. Finally, Turning Buck shoves him off her, and the realtors spring their unpleasant surprise. Mary and Constance lament the law’s unfairness and wonder about Turning Buck, whom Constance has always regarded as “a good man.” Still at the party, there is a battling quartet between a pair of birds and two pieces of construction equipment, the subject of which is nature versus development.
The next afternoon, back at the office, Leechfield and Gross celebrate their purchase of the other half of the point and await the appearance of Turning Buck. As Mary lurks, vaguely hoping to reverse matters, Turning Buck arrives, signs off on the second parcel, accepts another bribe, then “turns” --that is, he reneges on both deals and threatens to bring the law down on the developers. Mary dissuades him, and Gross and Leechfield are allowed to flee to the Sunbelt, to “country clubs where no one asks your name.” Back on the point the next morning, Turning Buck gives Constance a life-lease to all the land. She divulges that she has now received a postcard from her son, sent from a biker bar in Nebraska: he has no intention of returning. The way clear, Mary and Turning Buck pledge their troth.
Act II of Deeds premiered at the University of Maine on May 4, 2003 in Minsky Recital Hall.
A demo recording for 7 numbers from Deeds
was recorded in June 2006 with members
of Intermezzo Chamber Opera, a Boston-based touring company..