Through A Glass, Darkly

November 2007

Original music, lyrics, and story by Michael Shaieb for a 45 minute choral oratorio looking at the effects of crystal meth addiction in the GLBT community. It is written for men’s chorus and 3 male soloists. The story loosely follows a 36-hour period in the life of Sebastian, a young and successful businessman, as he ‘hits bottom’ due to his chronic use of methamphetamine. Sebastian is about to lose everything and everyone close to him, while both his long-time partner Zack and one-night-stand Billy face the cold truth that they have been lied to and left behind.

Through A Glass, Darkly is about shattered dreams, dreams unrealized, and dreams deferred. It is about the fear of being alone, the fear of not fitting in, and the struggle to find one’s place in the world. It explores the truth that, with support from our friends, we can gain the insight to see life more clearly.

As the scene opens, Sebastian, a successful Wall Street-type and meth addict, sneaks out of the house he shares with his long-time partner Zack and heads out to a club in search of new adventure (Opener). There, he seduces a fresh new face, Billy, and they retire to a hotel where Sebastian introduces him to the drug (Stay A While). Billy and Sebastian get high (Transitions). Sebastian quickly tires of Billy and the situation and seeks a way to duck out (Just Another Night). After Sebastian leaves, Billy and Zack separately find themselves awaiting Sebastian’s return. Zack decides to leave, begins to pack a suitcase, and finds an old photo album. He nostalgically flips through it, recalling better times (The Ordinary Things).

The story pauses for a commentary on the absurd commonness of crystal meth’s ingredients and its devastating effects on the body (Making It). The Chorus comments on the surreal denials of the meth epidemic, as drugs are not conversation for polite company (Let’s Pretend).

Synopsis

Billy and Zack, in their separate worlds, each find themselves now wondering where Sebastian is and when he might return (Any Minute Now). But Sebastian is nowhere to be found, and friends and neighbors start to notice his absence (Did You Know). The Chorus reflects on our search for love, and our dreams which we sometimes have to set aside for another day (We Hope). Messages to Sebastian go unanswered — he has lost his job, is losing his friends, and leaves everyone in the dark (Messages). Upon returning home, Sebastian denies that he has a problem and turns his wrath upon Zack, the one person who has supported him for years (What Problem). Zack laments what they have lost to the drug, and Sebastian sees his reflection in the mirror for the first time and what he has become (If You Only Knew).

Background

Originally commissioned by Dr. Stan Hill and the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus for their 2007-2008 season and underwritten through the generosity of Alan Braun.

The world premiere was March 29, 2008 at Ted Mann Hall on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. Twin Cities Public TV taped this concert along with interviews with the soloists and artistic team. The video premiered statewide in Minnesota on June 21, 2008 and is available for purchase on DVD from TCGMC.org.

Reactions

You were telling my story… speaking to me about the lives that I have affected… you left us with that one sentence that all addicts are longing to hear, we are beautiful. You nailed a very tough subject on the head. -T.

I cannot remember another time that I observed the Chorus living [their] mission statement more fully. -anonymous

Being a former meth user, I feel that I have found some redemption through this show. -M.B.



Credits

Book, Music & Lyrics



History

July 8, 2012
“If You Only Knew”

Heartland Men’s Chorus
GALA 2012 Concert Block
Ellie Caulkins Opera House
Denver, CO

April 9, 2011
April 10, 2011

West Coast Premiere

San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus
Lawrence Family Jewish Community Centers of San Diego County
David & Dorothea Garfield Theatre
San Diego, CA

June 30, 2010
“High” concert

New York City Gay Men’s Chorus
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, NYU
New York, NY

April 16, 2010
April 17, 2010

“Here & Now” concert

The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus
Arden Theatre
Philadelphia, PA

June 6, 2009
June 7, 2009

Pride Show 2009

Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC
Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University
Washington, DC

July 15, 2008
July 16, 2008

GALA Choruses Festival 2008

Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus
Ziff Ballet Opera House
Miami, FL

March 29, 2008
March 30, 2008

World Premiere

Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus
Tedd Mann Hall, University of Minnesota Campus
Minneapolis, MN


News