Looking Back

The happily coupled Charley and Hugo are saying their good-byes to the last of their departing guests—except for one, Claire. Inebriated, and fancying herself a medium, she suggests a séance to discover the answer to the mysterious re-appearance of a photograph of Michael, Charley's deceased ex. Claire passes out during the séance and the trio consider it a failure. Claire, once revived, finally wishes her hosts a good night. After a jealously tense moment inspired by all the reminders of Charley's deceased ex, Hugo goes to bed while Charley stays up, contemplating the photograph. Michael's ghost appears (the séance not being quite the failure they assumed). Despite a touching reunion, Charley doesn't buy into Michael's seductive words ("It could be like it was—always. Come with me and find out.") and walks away from the ghost and back into the arms of Hugo, his living love. Drawing on Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit for inspiration, I chose the image of the "ghost" to represent our tendency to idealize and fixate on the past—especially in the face of loss. But we all know that ghosts aren't real and letting them seduce us back into the past is a dangerous illusion. Charley realizes this and makes the difficult, but necessary, choice of looking forward rather than back.

Claire, soprano
Micheal, counter tenor
Hugo, tenor
Charley, bass-baritone

Duration: 35 minutes

Flute, Clarinet, Vibraphone, Harp, Piano, Strings

Production History:
Voyeur Theater Ensemble, 2007
Rachel Carter, Claire
Dennis Blackwell, Charley
Josh Mochel, Hugo
Robert Fertitta, Michael

Opera Vista (excerpt), 2009

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