by Sergio Martínez
Opera in four acts with libretto by Bailey Merlin
Living Room Opera is a new, Boston-based company with the goal of demystifying the opera experience by bringing the art form off the big stage and into people's homes. We believe that the complexities of the human condition can be explored through one of music’s liveliest expressions. Though opera has a long lived history, we want to produce relatable stories that speak to a diverse audience made up of different ages, races, income brackets, and life perspectives. We want opera to be for everybody.
Bailey Merlin’s window into the lives of two Latin American immigrants living in the city shines a light on the universality of generational trauma, the toxicity of gender roles, the expectation of male emotional repression, and finding the strength to eschew tradition. Her story is brought to life by Sergio Martinez’s passionate, occasionally playful, seamless blend of popular Latin music and American jazz, all with the panache and romanticism of a traditional opera.
Does emotional expression define manhood as weak? Does a woman’s professional success detract from her femininity? As both come to terms with the trauma of a generational repression of selfhood, Hector and Ximena begin to realize that casting off the weight of the past is the only way towards a healthier, more-fulfilling future.
Written and composed in a communal household during the COVID-19 quarantine, ¡Dime! combines cultures and artistic styles to tell a story far larger than its characters. With four acts performed in an hour, audiences sit in intimate quarters with Hector and Ximena as they attempt to untangle a knot of lifelong emotional learning in real time.
¡Dime! tells the story of Hector and Ximena, a long term couple with new roots in the United States, as both characters receive life-altering news. For Ximena, a promotion; for Hector, the death of his father. While both characters strive on paths that suit their ambitions, they are shackled: Ximena by a family that’s only ever wanted her to be a wife and mother, and Hector who was raised to press down his emotions under threat of violence.
Unable to process his grief, Hector lashes out at the one person who has been a supply of stability, which threatens both Ximena’s safety and the destiny of their relationship. Shivering in his father’s shadow, Hector must reckon with the toxic expectation of silent, masculine strength if he can ever hope to be a better man than those who came before him. At the same time, Ximena recognizes the telltale signs of the emotional caretaker she swore she would never be. This opera is a reckoning with trauma, women’s emotional labor, and gender-defining complacency.