600 Square Feet
PREMIERE: Feb. 20, 7:00p ET
The video premiere will go live here
A Talkback session will follow the premiere of this opera.
Go behind the scenes, ask questions, give feedback, and learn about the process of bringing the new operas to life in unique and challenging circumstances with the Creative Team and Artists.
ABOUT the OPERA
LOCATION: A 600-square-foot one-bedroom apartment in a city. Present day.
ABOUT THE CHARACTERS
Alexandra is a computer engineer. She can hold her own with nerds, but can be quite femme in her tastes and habits. Alex took Lance to see his first opera, something about a player who had dinner with a statue. She stops arguments by vocalizing, a tic she picked up after the opera.
Lance is in advertising. He wants to start his own branding and marketing business. His parents split after his mother’s serial affairs. Lance surprised himself by falling deeply in love with Alexandra, after years of short-term relationships. Lance is easygoing; Alexandra is driven.
In a prologue, Alexandra and Lance tell us they just broke up. Since they’re both fond of the apartment, instead of moving out, they decided to break up the apartment, too. Alexandra sleeps in the bedroom, Lance in the living room.
Rewind a few hours to the argument that caused the split. Lance saw Alexandra having coffee downtown with a mutual friend and assumed they’re having an affair. Meanwhile, Alexandra wants to know what Lance was doing downtown, since he had texted her that he was having a meeting at the office. Neither will explain what they were doing on the day in question.
At the height of their argument, their neighbor, Mrs. Kerputnik, bangs on the wall.
Days later, Alexandra and Lance are living apart, yet together. Alexandra complains that Lance leaves hairs in the sink after shaving; she can’t believe she once found that cute. Grumbling, he tries to sleep on the couch, but the pillow smells of Alexandra’s soap and shampoo. Both ex-lovers are troubled by the traces left behind.
Finally, after weeks have passed, there’s a confrontation. They accuse each other of missing them more. But the pretense won’t last. Lance breaks down and admits he can’t stand it anymore. He explains what he was doing that fateful day, as does Alexandra. They talk simultaneously and over each other. He was buying an engagement ring; she was meeting Jeremy to plan a birthday party for Lance.
They realize: It was a total misunderstanding, and an engagement announcement is in the future.
COMPOSER & LIBRETTIST
A composer with a gift for incorporating many influences and styles within her work, Guggenheim Fellow Nkeiru Okoye is perhaps best known for her opera, “Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom,” the orchestral work, “V oices Shouting Out,” which is an artistic response to 9/11, and her suite, “African Sketches,” which has been performed by pianists around the globe. Dr. Okoye is profiled in the, “Music of Black Composers Coloring Book,” and Routledge’s “ African American Music: An Introduction” textbook. She is the inaugural recipient of the International Florence Price Award for Composition. A recent New York Times article mentioned, “Okoye’s work would make a fitting grand opening for an opera company’s post-pandemic relaunch.”
The State of Michigan issued a proclamation acknowledging Dr. Okoye’s “extraordinary contributions” to the history of Detroit, Michigan, for “Black Bottom,” a symphonic experience commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, in celebration of the centennial season of Orchestra Hall. Her other recent works include “Tales from the Briar Patch,” commissioned by The American Opera Project, and “Charlotte Mecklenburg,” commissioned by the Charlotte Symphony . Some of her upcoming compositions for the 2021-2022 season include “Euba’s Dance,” for cellist Matt Haimowitz, “When young spring comes” for pianist and NPR Host, Laura Downes, and a micro-opera, “600 Square Feet,” for Cleveland Opera Theatre.
Dr. Okoye is a board member of Composers Now!. She holds a BM in Composition from Oberlin Conservatory, and a PhD in Music Theory and Composition from Rutgers University. www.nkeiruokoye.com
David Cote (pronounced “Cody”) is a playwright, librettist and arts journalist based in New York City. His operas include Blind Injustice with composer Scott Davenport Richards for Cincinnati Opera; Three Way with composer Robert Paterson (Nashville Opera and BAM); The Scarlet Ibis (Prototype Festival and Chicago Opera Theater) and Fade with Stefan Weisman; and We’ve Got Our Eye on You with composer Nkeiru Okoye. His plays include Saint Joe, Otherland (finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference) and Fear of Art.
His reporting and reviews appear in Observer, 4 Columns, American Theatre, and elsewhere.
David wrote the text for Nkeiru Okoye’s Black Lives Matter piece for baritone and orchestra, Invitation to a Die-In. His song cycles with Paterson, In Real Life and In Real Life II have been performed by soprano Marnie Breckenridge and baritone Jorell Williams, along with American Modern Ensemble. His choral works with Paterson, Did You Hear? and Snow Day, were sung by Musica Sacra and conducted by Kent Tritle on Eternal Reflections (American Modern Recordings). A cast recording of Three Way was also released on AMR.
David was the longest serving theater editor and chief drama critic of Time Out New York (2003-17), publishing thousands of reviews and articles. His writing has also appeared in Opera News, The Village Voice, The Guardian, The Times (UK) and The New York Times. He’s the author of popular companion books to the hit Broadway musicals Wicked, Jersey Boys and Spring Awakening. From 2010-11, he taught arts criticism at Brooklyn College. For the Best Plays Yearbook series, David wrote essays on Shining City, Blackbird and The Receptionist. From 1996 to '99, he was co-founder and editor of two theater 'zines: OFF: a journal of alternative theater and EdgeNY.
As an actor, David worked with avant-garde legend Richard Foreman, the exiled Iranian auteur Assurbanipal Babilla, and writer-directors Richard Maxwell, Robert Cucuzza and D.J. Mendel, among many others. He directed Babilla's acclaimed monologue Something Something Über Alles (Das Jackpot) for its world premiere in 1998 and the 2013 revival with Robert Honeywell, co-founder of Williamsburg’s Brick Theater.
David was born and adopted in New Hampshire and now lives in Manhattan. He has been honored with residencies at Ucross, The Hambidge Center, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and The MacDowell Colony. Member of the New York Drama Critics Circle, ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild. Proud alumnus of Bard College.