New Chamber Opera by Martin Halpern

Saturday, November 26, 2011 8:32 PM

New Chamber Opera by Martin Halpern

The world premiere of “Mrs. Middleman’s Descent,” a chamber opera with libretto and music by Martin Halpern, will be presented at the New York New Church, 114 East 35th Street in Manhattan, on October 5, 6 and 8 at 8 P.M.

The opera is set in the apartment of a happily married thirties-something couple, Mr. and Mrs. Middleman, in the 1950s. He has come home from his office for a weekday lunch, to make sure she will be fresh and rested for an important dinner with his boss that evening, presumably to announce a big promotion for him; and she, having been beset by insomnia the past two nights, promises to take a long nap that afternoon .

After he leaves for his office, she has a number of disturbing encounters with the three other characters: Manny, a desperately lonely student from upstairs; Mrs. Leary, the embittered landlady mourning the recent death of her dog Adonis; and a nun seeking donations for the cult of an excommunicated priest who claims to be the risen Christ. Shaken by these encounters, she swallows two sleeping pills which Manny has given her, and manages to drop off into a deep sleep.

What follows is a bizarre dream in which Mrs. Middleman descends into a kind of hell inhabited by Adonis, Manny, the nun, and Mrs. Leary. When Mr. Middleman returns with news that he has already been told of his promotion, he finds a wife so altered by her dream that she cannot easily share in his happiness. In the end, they drink a toast in which their own good fortune is severely tempered by her insistence on recognizing the evil and misery suffered by much of humanity.

Featured in the cast are Alisa Thomason as Mrs. Middleman, Jim Trainor as Mr. Middleman, Marty Coyle as Manny and Adonis, Kathryn Allyn as Mrs. Leary, and Sarah Materniak as the nun. The pianist is Earl Buys, stage director is Jamibeth Margolis, and music direction is by the composer.

Admission $20. $10 for students. For reservations, call 718-858-1549.