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2009-10 Oxford Companions - An Opera in Three Acts

[view score] $ 50  Contact the composer directly

  • Act 1 - A Man with a Mind [listen]
  • Act 1 - The Walk Home [listen]
  • Act 2 - The Anagram [listen]
  • Act 3 - Neil on the Street [listen]
  • Act 3 - The Bus Stop (Finale) [listen]

Giancarlo Aquilanti - Composer Neil Van Leeuwen - Librettist

Our story takes place at Oxford University, focusing on three young adults whose families fell on opposite sides during the War. But they don't become aware of this until they've already become friends and lovers. Marcus Liebkind is an American philosophy student with German roots. His father was a theologian who was put to death by Nazis in Munich for being in the Resistance. In Act I, Marcus meets Carlos and Amelia Davelon, Argentinean twins-also with German roots. Believing that their family moved to Argentina before the War, Marcus befriends both and falls in love with Amelia. At the beginning of Act II, Carlos discovers that Marcus and Amelia have become secretly engaged. Contrary to their expectations, he's thrilled! He can think of no better brother-in-law than Marcus. Carlos sends word to his father, Heinrich, inviting him to England to meet his future son. Heinrich comes. But after an exuberant dinner celebrating the young couple, Heinrich lets slip that his family left Munich after the War. Marcus, suspicious and upset, and turns to drink with his friend Neil Hardingham, a lower-class jokester Brit who made it into Oxford to do mathematics. Neil suggests they play anagrams while drinking, turning the names of people they know into dirty words. After two rounds, Neil suggests they do "Davelon," the last name of Carlos and Amelia. Marcus resists, but then discovers the crucial link: "Davelon" is an anagram for "von Adel." Kommissar Heinrich von Adel was the Gestapo Chief in Munich during the War and signed off on his father's execution. Act III begins with Marcus wandering the streets of Oxford. To his surprise, he finds himself at the Oxford Police Station. Entering, he tells the Chief of a Nazi criminal in England. The Chief puts him in touch with the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). The SIS operator tells him there is nothing they can do under British Law, but puts Marcus in touch with the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service. The British authorities can't legally take action against Heinrich, but neither do they have to interfere with the Mossad. In the next scene, Heinrich is still in Oxford, admiring the architecture with his two children, when a mysterious character asks him about his identity. In a flash, two other agents appear and abduct Heinrich. Carlos attempts to fight back. When British authorities arrive, they see him fighting with one of the agents. They arrest Carlos while the agent gets away. Heinrich has vanished; Carlos is in jail. To make matters worse, the hoodlums sharing the holding cell with Carlos discover that he's German. They too were toddlers during the War and even lost family members. They take their festering anger out on Carlos, beating him so severely that he has to go to the hospital. In the penultimate scene, Marcus visits Carlos in the hospital to apologize for betraying his family. Carlos apologizes to him, saying he was self-deceived about his father's identity. Carlos dies before Marcus' eyes, and Marcus weeps. Amelia comes in, saying she still loves him. The lights on stage dim, as Marcus tells Amelia they can never be together because of their histories. The final scene is set fifty years in the future, in 2010. Marcus is an aging philosophy professor, walking down the street and reflecting on life. A student comes up to him, asking what action is right when the demands of love and justice conflict. Marcus says the only way to solve that dilemma is to avoid getting into it. Marcus continues on, arriving at a figure seated on a bus stop bench. That figure stands up and is none other than Amelia. They embrace, reunited. The opera ends with the Chorus:

We are all in life companions. Friendship is all we have to give. Brothers, sisters bonded to us: One world, one life, one hope to live

 

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