Unnamed woman in part 1, Madame of the brothel in part 2 - soprano
The wandering samurai in part 1, Yamamoto the writer in part 2 - baritone
The Sound of a Voice is a chamber opera by Philip Glass, scored for two singers, a man and a woman, and a small ensemble with Asian and Western instrumentation including a pipa player. It was initially directed by Robert Woodruff and the libretto written by Asian-American playwright David Henry Hwang is based on his one act play originally appeared at The New York Public Theatre in the early 80's in which the dreams and fantasies of a Japanese writer and an aging warrior are laid bare. Philip Glass's previous collaborations with David Henry Hwang include The Voyage, 1000 Airplanes on the Roof and After Eros. It has been commissioned by A.R.T. - American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA). It is going to be premièred at the Loeb Drama Center, A.R.T. - American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA) on May 24, 2003 and will continue for performances through June 28, 2003
The Sound of a Voice explores how intimacy is achieved between people who have lived in seclusion. In the first part, an aging Japanese warrior arrives at the home of a mysterious woman who lives like a hermit deep in the woods. Has he come as her suitor, or her assassin? Does she intend to love him, or to imprison him forever, like the flowers she cultivates so assiduously? The battles of love become a deadly contest in this tale, blurring the distinctions between hero and coward, between victor and vanquished. In the second part, an elderly Japanese writer visits a mysterious brothel, which caters to men near the end of their lives by providing them with a means to relive their youth. The writer's initial contempt for the house gives way first to acceptance, then to regular visits. Ultimately, he finds his dreams and fantasies exposed before the brothel's elderly Madame, and embarks with her on an ethereal journey beyond sex and love.