The inspiration for this scenario came for a Romeo-and-Juliet type story in the Balkans that Mervyn and I heard about.
» An imaginary town, designed to be adaptable
to various cultural contexts. The town is in an imaginary country that descends
into civil (or ethnic) war. The timeline is intentionally stylized and
» Two children, in the age range 10-14, who
live on the opposite side of the street and who are friends. They can be either
sex. I have not yet named them, and will probably allow a variety of names with
similar syllables/sounds so that they can have names that suit the cultural
context of where the opera is being performed.
The action is continuous, but for convenience I have divided it into sections
Hanna is still determined to try and stop the confrontation. She steps out beyond her barricade into the street, and again appeals to both sides to stop. A child from Joseph's gang pulls out a gun, and shoots. Hanna falls, hit. There is stunned silence from the children, and then cheers from Joseph's side, congratulations to the child with the gun, and fascination with the gun itself. Still gunfire in distance.
However, Joseph is horrified, seeing the actual results of his hatred. He breaks through his gang, and runs to the fallen Hanna. There is a very short duet between the two, cut off by a gun shot from Hanna's gang. Joseph is hit, and falls. Cheers from the other gang. The guns are pointed at the opposing gangs. Children take cover.
As they do so, UN troops enter in a column along the street that runs to the back of the stage. The children fall silent. The UN officer goes to the two fallen children. Joseph is dead, but Hanna is still alive, and is tended by the UN soldiers, and taken out on a stretcher.
The UN officer looks at both sets of children, and takes one of the guns from the child that is holding it. He then picks up the dead Joseph, and shows him to the children. He tells them that this what war really means, that the child is the same flesh and blood as they are, and is now dead, and this is where hatred leads. The children largely respond - the horror of it is dawning on them.
Joseph's parents rush up, venting grief but also anger and spite at the opposite side. The UN officer, still holding Joseph, says, no, it was you with your hatred that killed him, and that this can no longer continue. Joseph's father is angry, abusive; Joseph's mother is distraught, her worst deepest fears - the death of her child - have come true.
Some of the children from both groups join him, for they don't want it to happen again. Within this closing chorus, with its positive message, the dangers are still apparent: Joseph's parents taking his body, still angry, and the child with the other gun, who hides it for future use. The opera closes.