SPEED DATING TONIGHT!
Comic Opera in One Act
Conceived by Dean Anthony
Music and Words by Michael Ching
Premiere Produced and Directed by Dean Anthony for Janiec Opera
Brevard Music Festival 2013
Amarillo Opera 2013
Southern Utah University 2013
Ithaca College 2013
University of Central Florida 2014
Microsopic Opera Pittsburgh 2014
Speed Dating Tonight! Is conceived as a show that can be easily produced by young artist training programs, colleges, and university opera programs. It can be presented in a formal theatre or black box, or performed in a bar. Because of its flexible casting requirements, it allows for maximum participation by available singers. Vocal demands of the opera are not strenuous—rather the show is an exercise in characterization. The centerpiece of the opera is a series of 90 second “dates” which can be put together in whatever order or key desired.
Cast: Bartender (B or Bs Br); Cocktail Waitress (M); Busboy (mute); Dating Coordinator (M or S); A varied number of daters—up to 26. Voice types ad lib. The gender ratio does not need to be exactly 1/1.
Instrumentation: Piano accompaniment.
Speed Dating Tonight! is divided into three sections–the opening, the dates, and the finale.
A bar. Some small cocktail tables down front, each with two chairs. Off to one side, a Bar. A quiet evening, the bartender instructs the cocktail waitress and busboy to get ready for the evening. The waitress usually works the day shift, so although she’s been working at the bar for a while, she’s never met the bartender who works evenings. The SPEED DATING Coordinator arrives and greets the staff and prepares for the event to begin.
Patrons start entering the bar. The atmosphere is excited and charged–they are here to sign up for the Speed Dating. Some are eager, some are reluctant, some are downright worried. A few come with friends, most come alone. The Speed Dating Coordinator then introduces herself and sets the rules–daters can use their names and/or numbers. The women (or the men) will take a place at one of the cocktail tables and the men (or the women) will rotate through. When the bell rings, it’s time to move on.
According to the choice of the producers, we hear a series of dating monologues and duets. One of the characters is a pathological liar. Another character is unhappy with the scene and eventually leaves (not before singing about that unhappiness). The music in this scene is written in a variety of keys and the sequence is left to the producers. Somewhere in this succession of dates, there is a duet “Order up” between the bartender and the cocktail waitress. They comment on the scene. The dates have a large variety of characters–the flirt, the ditz, a dancer, a shy origamist, a fire control officer, a wealthy person trying to live a quiet normal life, a fitness fanatic, a bassoon player, a character with a “checklist”, a steampunk girl. The plan is to have a book of fifty daters to choose from, not all of whom will be in the show. Date “arias” are generally last 90-120 seconds.
The cocktail waitress and bartender observes the scene with a certain sympathy to the daters. Breaking with any semblance of realism. Some are enthusiastic, some are miserable. This develops into a large ensemble, reflecting the various states of mind of the daters.
One of the daters can’t seem to stop playing with their hand held device resolves to try one more date, but if it doesn’t fly, they are going to leave. They sit down and admit they have “OSD”–“Obsessive Screen Disorder” The dater they are with asks for their phone number and sends them a text. They are clearly made for each other and it’s love at first byte–each communicating through their smartphones, even though they are right across the table from each other. They express their excitement via a parody of the “Papageno/Papagena” duet from THE MAGIC FLUTE. They leave together.
The Speed Dating Coordinator thanks the participants for coming and they file out, some in pairs, some checking with the coordinator for some contact requests.
Left alone the Bartender asks the Waitress to go out for coffee and they leave together. The last thing they do is turn out the neon sign and the Busboy has the “last word.”
Companies who plan to perform Speed Dating Tonight! get a sample pdf piano vocal score. Based on the characters, they fill out a checklist indicating the voice types they have selected for each part. The composer will then prepare a pdf piano vocal score that will be the basis for the production. Changes can be made later!
A production of Speed Dating Tonight! Requires a performance license which will cost $500 and up depending on the length of the run. License will also include the right to make archival recording and to copy and arrange the piano vocal score as needed. Performances of excerpts
of less than five minutes for recitals, juries, and nonpaying concerts are permitted without license.
The license comes with the right to make as many copies of the score needed, so the show has no expensive piano vocal scores to buy.
For licensing information contact:
Michael Ching is an opera composer best known for BUOSO’S GHOST (1996) his sequel to GIANNI SCHICCHI. He is the former Artistic Director of Opera Memphis. An experienced character tenor, Dean Anthony is a stage director and now the Director of Opera at the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center.