Aaron James, a football superstar, discovers what money and power can’t buy, as he confronts the temptations and pressures of life off the field, and how they shape his relationship with a twelve year-old boy who idolizes him. This richly melodic opera is a poignant exploration of individual accountability, the myth of celebrity, and single parenting.
The curtain comes up on Aaron James, a star wide-receiver, as he makes a winning play in a critical game for his team, The Hawks. Aaron has become a pal and surrogate father to Casey, a troubled kid whose mother, Jenny, works as a secretary for the tough-talking team owner, Doris. Casey idolizes Aaron not realizing the player has a second life off the field as a compulsive gambler. An enforcer for the mob appears to demand that Aaron throw a game to pay off his growing debts. Against a backdrop of sport radio broadcasts that reveal the extent of Aaron’s popularity, Casey becomes more and more attached to him. The team owner buys him out of debt, but the enforcer still demands Aaron throw the game. Otherwise, he threatens to release photographs of Aaron gambling in Las Vegas that will end his career.
Although he never decides to throw the game, Aaron does drop the winning pass depriving his team of a championship. Casey overhears a conversation between Aaron and Doris in which she accuses him of dropping the pass on purpose. The boy is devastated. After his mother holds Aaron accountable for her son’s disillusionment, the player decides to redeem himself by admitting his gambling to Casey and the world, and quits the game. He’s a giant on the gridiron, but real life cuts him down.
DIFFERENT FIELDS A Musical Drama
Music by MIKE REID Libretto by SARAH SCHLESINGER
AARON JAMES (baritone): a wide receiver at the height of his career. He is in his early thirties.
JENNY WILLIS (soprano): the team secretary. She is 31 years old. The mother of Casey Willis.
CASEY WILLIS (boy soprano): Jenny’s twelve-year old son.
DORIS WARNER (mezzo): a flamboyant woman in her forties. She was the trophy wife of the deceased owner of the Hawks football team.
CAL FARBER (tenor): a radio sports personality in his forties.
RON BOWEN (bass-baritone): An enforcer for a Vegas syndicate.
Reed 1 (Flute, Piccolo)
Reed 2 (Oboe, English Horn)
Reed 3 (Clarinet)
Percussion (Drum Set, Snare Drum, Sizzle Cymbal, Toms, Suspended Cymbal, Glockenspiel, Timpani, Bass Drum, Triangle, Hi-Hat, Ride Cymbal, Coach’s Whistle)