Service Provider

 

Service Provider

A One-Act Opera


Commissioned by Washington National Opera


Libretto by John de los Santos


Year composed: 2015

Duration: 20 minutes

Roles: Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, Baritone

Orchestration: 1.1.1.1/1.0.0.0/xylo./pf/str:1.0.1.1.1

Availability: Rental only.



From left, Hunter Enoch as Beau, Rexford Tester as Dallas, and Daryl Freedman as Autumn. (Scott Suchman / Washington National Opera)



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About the Opera

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Service Provider is a comic opera detailing the erosion of modern romance by our obsession with mobile technology. When a loving young couple goes out for their anniversary dinner at an elegant restaurant, the evening descends into farcical disaster as the pair’s phone calls and texting unmask the facade of their fragile marriage.


It is late evening at a high-end American restaurant, twenty minutes before the closure of the kitchen. Autumn and her husband Beau are celebrating their third anniversary over wine and musing over all the common ground within the marriage. Their server, Dallas, inquires if they are enjoying their wine, and recommends another at Autumn’s request. He becomes irritated when Autumn becomes engrossed in her phone and stops listening to him. Beau orders a new bottle and Dallas leaves to seat Charlene at another table and take her drink order.


Charlene is also texting while Dallas informs her of the evening’s entrée specials. She finishes her glass of cheap wine and orders another. Back at Autumn’s table, Beau is frustrated with her inattention to him in favor of her constant texting. Dallas returns with their new bottle and Autumn asks him to take several pictures of her and Beau, which he agrees to. Beau’s patience with Autumn is wearing thin, and she teases that if he doesn’t let up, he won’t be getting his anniversary gift.


Autumn goes back to her phone when Beau suddenly gets a text from Charlene revealing that the two of them are having an affair. Beau has tried to break if off, but Charlene refuses to let it end. They text back and forth while Autumn obliviously texts her friend about how well the evening is going. Witnessing these exchanges, Dallas bemoans his clients’ enslavement to their phones and their lack of recognition for what the present has put right in front of them.


Autumn goes to the ladies’ room where she tries to take the perfect selfie. Having followed her in, Charlene offers to take a picture for her. Autumn agrees and returns the favor. Autumn exits and Charlene texts Beau again.


When Autumn returns, their dishes have arrived. Beau places both their phones on the table, insisting that neither of them use them for the rest of dinner. Beau goes to men’s room, and when his phone receives Charlene’s text, Autumn sees it. Charlene enters and taunts her, and the two begin to fight, despite Dallas’ intervening. A mortified Beau enters and the fight resumes until Dallas tells Charlene to leave, which she does. Devastated, Autumn calls a friend to pick her up, and asks Beau why he did this. Beau grabs her phone, throws in on the floor and replies, “That’s why.” Autumn flees and Dallas, at a loss, asks Beau if he’d like to order dessert. Beau sadly opens his anniversary gift, which Autumn forgot. It turns out to be a new phone.


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Performance History

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July 13, 2017

UrbanArias

Melissa Wimbish (Autumn)

Jeffrey Grayson Gates (Beau)

Maggie Finnegan (Charlene)

Ian McEuen (Dallas)

Alexandria, VA



May 4, 2017

Fort Worth Opera

Stephen Carey, conductor

Christina Pecce (Autumn)

Trevor Martin (Beau)

Anna Laurenzo (Charlene)

Andrew Surrena (Dallas)

Fort Worth, TX



December 2, 2015 (Premiere)

Washington National Opera

John DeMain, conductor

Daryl Freedman (Autumn)

Hunter Enoch (Beau)

Mandy Brown (Charlene)

Rexford Tester (Dallas)

Washington D.C.


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Press

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“The crowd-pleaser was Service Provider by Christopher Weiss and John de los Santos, a sketch about a couple whose anniversary dinner in a restaurant is compromised by the wife’s constant texting and the husband’s lover’s subsequent intrusion.”

The Washington Post



“[The character Dallas’] aria about the evening specials is a thing of beauty. […] A surprisingly classic score. This was just hilarious beginning to end—turning an experience we’re all painfully familiar with into art.”

DC Metro Theater Arts



“A witty sendup of America’s obsession with cellphones.”

Fort Worth Star-Telegram



“A crowd-pleasing farce […] replete with infidelity, laffs about bad cellphone etiquette, and a haughty waiter.”

Parterre Box



“The best opera of the night was the last one, Service Provider, which is about a couple celebrating their third anniversary who are torn apart by technology and the discovery that one of them is having an affair. Watching people sing their text messages out loud is way more enjoyable than you would think. […] It was also incredibly fun to hear [the orchestra] recreate various ringtones and text message beeps.”

Brightest Young Things



“Of the three short operas, […] Service Provider was for us at least the most fully realized in terms of plot, character, action and music. […] Librettist John de los Santos’ sophisticated and efficient narrative really takes off. […] It’s a testament to Mr. de los Santos’ skill that he’s able to compact this all-too-familiar urban tale—including its additional complications—into a functional and satisfying plot. While the characters are a bit of a cliché, this is intentional as we’re dealing with a well-crafted satire in this opera and not simply a standard story line. But Mr. de los Santos also contributes in two additional key areas. In a short period of time, he crispy and efficiently defines each character, while piling on additional characters and complications so quickly and efficiently that he’s able to bring his story quickly to the boiling point leading to a decisive climax and a satisfying denouement. He also provides efficient dialogue and verse forms with plenty of vowels, giving composer-collaborator Christopher Weiss a load of great musical material to work with. Not surprisingly, Mr. Weiss was in turn inspired to provide the snappiest, most sharply defined music of the evening, helping flesh out the opera’s characters and providing the best single set piece of the night in which Dallas—in rapid Gilbert & Sullivan mode—delivers a hymn of praise to food, to his chef and to his superior tableside skills. As astonishing as it is funny, it’s written, composed and sung like a mini-version of Figaro’s famous aria, ‘Largo al factotum.’ […] Neither its story nor its hair-trigger characters ever flag; its instantly recognizable narrative remains humorously on target; the opera’s pace has a way of auto-accelerating right on schedule; and perhaps most important, its score pumps up and defines each character and defines each plot twist in a way that proved satisfying.”

Communities Digital News



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