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Dog Days

west coast premiere


LA Opera launches an exciting initiative to present new operas at REDCAT with a deeply unsettling work* that blends classical vocalism with dark heavy metal influences. In the aftermath of an unimaginable catastrophe, a family struggles to keep together. The teenage daughter clings to hope, unwilling to accept her dire situation, until a stranger shows up at the doorstep, a reminder of just how bad things have gotten.

Based on a powerful short story by Judy Budnitz, and hailed by The Wall Street Journal as “one of the most exciting new operas of recent years” Dog Days* is a shocking reminder of contemporary opera's raw power. "It's only a matter of time before this riveting show is confirmed as a groundbreaking American classic." (New York Times) 


There are currently no upcoming performances.

Performances of Dog Days will take place at The Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. 
631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

*PARENTAL ADVISORY: This production features violence, mature themes and adult language. Not recommended for children.

The running time is approximately two hours and 15 minutes, including one intermission.

LA Opera's presentation of Dog Days is made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Part of NEXT ON GRAND Contemporary Americans - A Festival of Music, Dance and Opera.

Dog Days was originally produced by Peak Performances @ Montclair State (NJ) in association with Beth Morrison Projects. Dog Days was commissioned by Peak Performances @ Montclair State (NJ). Selections from Dog Days were commissioned and presented by Carnegie Hall for the Weill Music Institute. Scenes from Dog Days were presented as part of New York City Opera’s VOX Contemporary American Opera Lab. The 2015 tour of Dog Days is produced by Beth Morrison Projects.


Synopsis by librettist Royce Vavrek

Act 1 (Summer)
Middle America, the not-so-distant future: A family of five stays put as most people flee the interior of the country to the coasts. Howard, the father, goes out hunting daily, but his actions are futile. There is no food, aside from government rations that are air-dropped periodically. A beggar, dressed as a dog, shows up at their door searching for scraps. The mother encourages her daughter Lisa to befriend the dog-man, suggesting that she buy into his fantasy of being a dog. Lisa sneaks a couple potato wedges and feeds the beggar, confiding in him, revealing her loneliness and the depression of her mother and father. In the privacy of their bedroom, the parents argue about their choice to stay put, rather than fleeing for the safety of the big cities while their sons, Pat and Elliot, smoke pot in the basement and dream about repopulating the world when things return to normal. Alone, Lisa writes a letter to her best friend Marjorie who escaped with her family, telling her about the new friend she made — the man in a dog suit.

Act 2 (Fall)
The family, now clearly beginning to starve, must rely on grass and weeds for sustenance, and crumbs that are provided as rations. Howard is overcome with frustration and attempts a conversation with the man in the dog suit (Prince, as Lisa has named him), hoping to convince him to “stand up like a man” and act like a human being. When Prince runs off, Howard’s anger erupts in an emotional breakdown. Lisa, locked in the bathroom, eats what’s left of a bottle of Flintstone vitamins. As her stomach begins to churn, she sees her emaciated body and begins to romanticize her figure, believing that she finally looks beautiful like all of the women on the cover of magazines. Later, in the middle of the night, the boys are brought home by an official who has caught them sneaking into abandoned houses. She suggests that the boys enlist in the army, which will keep them out of trouble, as well as provide better rations for the family. Howard refuses. His family is sticking together.

Act 3 (Winter)
The cold sets in. Rations are no longer air-dropped. Mother goes through the motions of her domestic chores, finally resigned to the fact that the end is near. She climbs into bed and waits for death. Howard, left with no other option, grabs his rifle and goes after the only animal in sight, Prince. His sons hungrily follow after him. Inside the house, Lisa discovers her mother and performs a final act of grace before setting out into the great unknown.

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