Robert J. Bradshaw's Gabriel
PROGRAM NOTES .Gabriel, the opera, is an allegory for society's increasing perception of connection to the world through the Internet - while in fact, separating ourselves from physical interaction. The false perception of safety (and ultimate isolation) of electronic relationships frequently promotes posting statements or images people would never consider saying or doing in person. Although Principal interacts with the other members of the cast, they never come in contact with each other. A scrim represents the physical barrier (the computer screen) that separates Principal from the living world. Gabriel, the character, is an enigma. Is Gabriel an angel sent to bring our distraught main character a message of hope and peace? Is Gabriel Principal's conscience - interjecting reason and sanity into her increasingly reclusive thoughts? Does Gabriel represent Principal's virtual communication? Or is Gabriel a figment of her imagination, a childhood imaginary friend reappearing in her hour of need and solitude? The question remains. Who is Gabriel? Can you hear his message? What is Gabriel saying to you? Principal represents society's dependency on the Internet, computers and electronic communication. We can't live without them, or so we think. The opera revolves around Principal's struggle to cope with living in both the real and virtual worlds - ultimately having to choose between the them. Memory I represents both the spirit of positive social interaction and perspective, as two people may view the same situation entirely differently. Memory I helps us understand this possibility and demonstrates how important it is to listen to the people in our lives who care for our well-being. Memory II represents situations where we are required to interact with people in person. We all experience these types of interactions in our daily lives. However, and quite surprisingly, many of these interactions have also been replaced by technology. Now, a person can go to the doctor and, instead of talking to the receptionist, place their finger on a scanner and be identified by their fingerprint. All done. Signed in. One less moment of social interaction in your life. SYNOPSIS: I OVERTURE: Memories (Orchestra) Images of beautiful summer days are projected on the scrims, offering a glimpse into Principal's former life. Due to the fact that the opera includes an instrument performing the role of one of the main characters, themes and motives representing ideas, thoughts and emotions play an integral role in the score. Several of these themes are introduced during this scene. II Gabriel's Message (Gabriel) Gabriel is revealed, in shadow, behind the scrim. As Gabriel must rely entirely on instrumental music to portray the character, arias focus on the themes mentioned above and recognizable musical emotions. In this aria, Gabriel is both concerned and hopeful. III No! (Duet: Principal / Gabriel) Principal's first words are "No! Gabriel. I don't think it's a good idea." Clearly Gabriel has upset her. We begin to learn about our main characters (the persistent Gabriel and somewhat scattered Principal). Principal is always thinking about many things but rarely focusing on the task at hand - the distracted life so many of us have come to know, spending long hours working with computers and surfing the Internet. This scene ends with an understanding between Gabriel and Principal but no resolution. IV Come to the opera (Duet: Principal / Memory I) In this scene we meet the first of two memories. Memory I represents perspective in interpersonal relationships. All too often the same event may make one person happy and another sad. In this case, Memory I remembers the events of Principal's past as exciting and fun, while Principal only remembers the conflicts. The more excited Memory I becomes, the more Principal withdraws. V Pain (Principal) The listener begins to learn why Principal is so obsessed with the Internet and how challenging human interaction can be - both filled with joy and excitement and also fraught with peril. Gabriel interrupts her thoughts and she becomes angry. VI Regular Visits (Duet: Principal / Memory II) Instead of trying to persuade Principal to leave, Memory II comes to her home for a visit - a visit that Principal is powerless to avoid. Although Memory II is here to help, he is not a friend and Principal resents the visit. This forces her deeper into her delusion, regressing to memories from her childhood. Again, Gabriel enters the discussion, this time with disastrous results. VII Interlude: Isolation (Orchestra) The second act begins with images of winter. Principal is sad and reclusive. The more Gabriel tries to help her, the more she pulls away. VIII Gabriel's Hope (Gabriel) Gabriel has not given up hope for our distraught main character. There is still time for Principal to change her mind and make the right decision. In this scene Gabriel calls to her. IX Why are you here? (Duet: Principal / Gabriel) In a moment of serenity, Principal is thinking clearly enough to question her existence by questioning Gabriel. She also reveals how much she missed her companion and how lonely she has been. X Intervention: Assault of Memories (Cast) Unfortunately, with remembering, both the good and the bad are revealed and Principal quickly tries to change the subject. She offers Gabriel an invitation: "Would you like to visit my friends?" However, she quickly begins to realize that even her online world is filled with sadness and tragedy. Memories begin to flood back and she reaches her breaking point. XI Yes! (Principal / Gabriel) "Enough!" Principal cries. The end is near. She has made up her mind. But what is it going to be? Gabriel begins to hope but those hopes are dashed when she reveals her decision. XII Gabriel's Lament (Gabriel) The final scene is left to despair as Gabriel laments Principal.