June 16, 2004 | The American Opera Project
A Letter to East 11th Street
Composer:Martin Hennessy
Librettist:Mark Campbell
Part I of A Letter to East 11th Street takes place in 1989. Rick Driscoll, a young man with AIDS who has returned to the suburban house he grew up in, videotapes a letter to his best friend and former roommate, Susan. While Rick tapes the letter, Susan watches it on her TV in the apartment they used to share on East 11th Street. In the video, he offers a tour of his childhood bedroom, muses about a new age treatment sent him by his friend Moira, reminisces about his former lover, Tom, and finally tries to explain why he suddenly left New York and needed to return home. Part II occurs 10 years after Rick has died. Susan, about to leave the apartment she shared with Rick, sings of her life without him and the events of the intervening years. A scratchy recording of an aria sung by a famous soprano, “Al castel natio ritorno…” connects both parts.

Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)

Number of Acts

Musical Style
contemporary classical

Vocal & Musical Forces
1 Tenor, 2 Sopranos and small orchestra (Fl, Cl in B flat, Horn in F, Tpt in B flat, Timpani, Percussion, Harp, Piano, Strings)

Original Cast
April 13, 2004 (Rose Studio): Michael Smallwood (tenor); June 2004 (AOP): Michael Slattery as Rick (tenor), Wendy Hill as Susan (non singing role); May 6, 2006 (NYU Skirball Centre): Christopher Jackson (tenor), Karen Frankenstein (soprano), Arianna Zukerman (soprano)

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