A CHAMBER OPERA
Music and libretto by Samuel Beebe.
Ashland is the story of RONI, a 26-year-old Muslim American man who becomes the subject of an FBI sting operation, in which he is charged as a violent terrorist.
Exploiting RONI’s mental illness, an FBI informant is deployed to seek out RONI at his family’s mosque. Posing as a radical, he coerces RONI into planning a terrorist attack. After leading RONI in a fake oath to Al Qaeda, the two plan an assault on the Pentagon using drone aircraft and explosives. It is not revealed to the audience that the informant is in fact working for the FBI until the final stages of the opera. After months of monitoring his actions and recording his conversations, FBI Agents in charge of the investigation decide they have a strong enough case against RONI, and arrest him, indicting him on federal charges of attempting to commit an act of terror, even though no such act ever took place.
“The Die Was Already Cast” occurs late in the opera, when RONI is already in custody. EVA HASSAN, RONI’s mother, has been speaking at length with Federal Public Defender MIA KRAMER, who is representing RONI in the case. For the past several hours, MIA has implored EVA to convince her son to take a plea deal offered by the prosecution that would reduce a devastating 50 year sentence to a still draconian 20. Midnight has come and gone. Even if they know the truth says otherwise, they are left with an impossible decision.
Alina Tambourini, MIA KRAMER (soprano)
Natasha Nelson, EVA HASSAN (mezzo-soprano)
Corinne Penner, piano
Brenda Harris, stage direction
Daniel Beckwith, music direction