a one-hour opera in one act
SCORE: EVAN FEIN LIBRETTO: EMILY ANDERSON
Life in the small, rural community of Eusebia is turned upside-down when the arrival of seven ugly sisters is followed closely by a rash of mysterious deaths. When Luke Bell—whose Aunt Alice and Uncle Henry are befriending and protecting them—falls in love with Sophronia, the youngest, he discovers that true love can transform anything, even himself.
On the night of a stormy winter solstice, seven sisters are marooned on an island in a flooded river. As the waters rise, the youngest sings the ‘Siren Song to the Dead.’ Amid thunder and lightning, they cry for help.
The following morning in her sunny, farmhouse kitchen, Alice frets about her dying mother, kept awake by the storm. Her husband, Henry, recalls hearing eerie voices on the wind. Their nephew, Luke, rushes in with news that seven women are stranded on the island in front of their house. They rush to rescue them.
Several hours later, Alice has fed and clothed the women, who refuse to reveal their names or their story, saying only that they are sisters. She and Henry are horrified at their ugly faces, so ugly, Henry says, the townspeople fear they are demons. Knowing her mother will soon die, Alice confesses her fear of death. The youngest sister offers to help.
Several nights later while dressing the body of Alice’s dead mother, the sisters sing their ‘Siren Song to the Dead.’ From the shadows, Luke watches. As the song fades, he introduces himself to the youngest. She tells him she has no name, only ‘Young One’ or ‘Girl.’ Luke says he heard her singing her song of death the night of the storm. She tells him it is a song of hope.
Several months and multiple deaths later, the community has become dependent on the sisters’ tenderness and care. Luke secretly has been seeing the Young One and has taken her to a dance. He cannot believe he is falling in love with a woman so hideous. The Young One believes that without beauty love is impossible. When she touches his eyelids, however, he sees the face of an angel.
Alice and Henry return from the funeral of yet another young man. The scene shifts to the young couple in the lane. Luke, now deeply in love, argues that they must respect love’s power and will. The Young One resists. Insisting that he loves her, he removes her mask. She is beautiful.
Late one evening after yet another funeral, the townspeople turn on the sisters. Luke and his lover, oblivious to the danger, are in the lane planning their marriage. Luke gives her his dead mother’s name, Sophronia, and pledges to watch over her. Alice interrupts with news that an armed mob is approaching their house.
Barricaded in the kitchen, Alice, Henry, and Luke vow to protect the sisters from the mob. Sophronia volunteers to sacrifice herself. As she moves towards the door, a lightning bolt kills seven men and boys. She goes to fetch her sisters and a few minutes later meets Luke in the lane. She tells him death wants him next. To save his life, they must flee. Luke, unable to trust her and fearing for his own humanity, refuses to go. Sophronia dons her mask and leaves.
After a night of searching for Sophronia, Henry and Luke return to Alice. They were too late. Sophronia and her sisters are dead. Luke is heartbroken.
On the evening of the following winter solstice, Luke finds Sophronia’s mask in the lane. Suddenly, he hears her voice, distant at first, then increasingly near. As he stands paralyzed with surprise and fear, her voice begins to fade. Determined not to lose her again, he runs after her, leaving her mask on the empty stage.