THE SACRIFICE

  • Year of Composition 2014
  • Duration ca. 50-60 minutes
  • PDF Sample download

Details

(See below for excerpts)

STEVE, 35, is a drone pilot and is having problems with his job. Together with WAYNE, who is in charge of the sensors, he flies drones which survey and attack people who live up to 10,000 miles away and are claimed to be terrorists. Very often they watch and study these people for many days and as a result get to know them quite well; their day to day lives, their wives, their children, and their friends. And when they finally get the order to kill, they do that and then go back to their own family life as though nothing has happened.

STEVE can’t bear this any more; he has become very short-tempered with MELINDA, his wife, and CHRISSIE, his ten year old daughter, suffer from his volatile moods. In addition, his friend JESSIE, who fought in Afghanistan, makes fun of his being called a soldier – even though he sits in an air conditioned room and fights by operating joy sticks.

WAYNE realizes that STEVE is deteriorating psychologically and suggests that STEVE meet his wife PHYLLIS, who is a psychotherapist. STEVE agrees, but the meeting is a total disaster because PHYLLIS, who is very critical of drone attacks, compares them – in order to provoke STEVE – with terrorist attacks.

The following day STEVE and WAYNE have to conduct an attack, and at the last moment it seems as though the target’s daughter comes around the corner of the house just when it is too late for the missile to be redirected, and it appears as though she is killed along with her father. STEVE asks his superior if a child was also killed in the attack, and the answer is that is was a dog. STEVE and WAYNE know that this cannot be true.

STEVE comes home frantic and depressed. MELINDA cannot calm him down, and while she is in the kitchen making dinner STEVE takes CHRISSIE with him, fetching his gun. They leave the house, and a very worried MELINDA calls WAYNE.

STEVE takes CHRISSIE to the place where he was with MELINDA on their wedding day. He tells her the story of the man and his daughter he has just killed, and how the war on terrorism is not like other wars, which can be concluded with a peace treaty. That is why people must give signals to the world, and he will be the first to do this by killing what he loves most, and then himself.

MELINDA, WAYNE, and PHYLLIS have now arrived and are unable to stop him. CHRISSIE, who does not really understand what her father is talking about, takes notice of a strange sound coming nearer, and when she points out this sound to her father he is so startled that she can run to her mother. STEVE raises his gun as if to shoot himself, but drops is when he hears CHRISSIE’S voice. Instead he salutes in the direction of the drone, which is now above him.

(Copyright by Doris Reckewell)


Excerpt from Scene #1

The opera opens with the main character (Steve) pensively smoking a cigarette in one room and his daughter’s birthday party taking place in the other room.

Chrissie (soprano, as indicated by a flute sound): Daddy?

Melinda: (mezzo soprano, as indicated by a viola sound) What’s going on here?

Excerpt from Into to Scene #2

An orchestral allegro introduction to Scene 2, which takes place in a fitness studio.

Excerpt from Scene #5

Steve and his co-worker Wayne are ready to have the drone fire the rocket which they believe will kill a terrorist. They have been studying the terrorist for a week and know that he has a daughter the same age as Steve’s daughter, and a wife. The music at the beginning portrays nervous activity as they prepare everything. The rocket is finally fired, and at the last second they see the daughter come around the corner and know that she has been killed as well. But the official response is that it was a dog.

STEVE and WAYNE are concentrated on what they are doing.

FEMALE VOICE: Target is alone in the house?

WAYNE (bass, as indicated by a horn sound): Confirmed by sensors.

FEMALE VOICE: Okay then, ready for action. Lase the target.

STEVE (tenor, as indicated by a trombone sound): Target is lased. Three, two, one. Rifle (he pushes the button)

(after about 15 seconds)

STEVE: (screams) Oh, my God!

Explosion of the missile

STEVE: I couldn’t divert the missile any more. It was too late.

WAYNE: (does not answer).

STEVE: We killed her. It was little Fatima, wasn’t it? She came around the corner.

WAYNE: (does not answer)

STEVE: Wayne, did we kill her?

WAYNE: I’m not sure but it looks like it.

STEVE: Colonel Stevenson?

FEMALE VOICE: Yes, Captain Grainger.

STEVE: Was that a child coming ‘round the corner?

FEMALE VOICE (does not answer)

STEVE: Was that a child coming ‘round the corner?

FEMALE VOICE: No, it was a dog.

STEVE: A dog? A dog? Wayne, let me see that recording.

Wayne and Steve watch the recording

STEVE: Slow down.

STEVE and WAYNE look very closely.

STEVE: Definitely a child. A child with long hair. Wouldn’t you agree?

WAYNE: Yes.

STEVE: Colonel, we are convinced that it was a child.

FEMALE VOICE: No, it was a dog.

WAYNE: A dog with two legs?

STEVE: (stares at one of the computers) Look, Fatima is running towards the house.

WAYNE: (spoken) There’s no house.

STEVE: (spoken)  She knows that her husband is dead. But not that her daughter was also killed. (He looks at Wayne, they look at each other, time stands still, and then he rushes outside).

Excerpt from Scene #4

An orchestral interlude between scenes.