MainStreet Award

Directors' Choice Award Winner

| script | breakdown | synopsis |

Boxes - a radio opera

book by Michael Sahl, & Eric Salzman, libretto Eric Salzman. music by Michael Sahl

Act I

Act II


Bill Parry, Candice Earley, Tim Jerome, Gerrianne Raphael, and others.


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BOXES takes place in the not-so-distant future in a place where civilized people live in Boxes or Total Convenience Modules where their needs and desires are taken care of and they are protected from the chaos and danger of The Outside.


John: wide-ranging baritone (G-G); youngish, curious, an activist or artistic type; questions authority, troubled by doubts and anger

Nancy: wide-ranging mezzo (G-G); must have both chest voice and head; youngish, idealistic, wants to believe in the system; slower to rebel but eventually a total convert

Video Lady: mezzo (G-Eb); at first only a voice or TV image; later appears as an attractive, idealistic and very sincere older woman who has dedicated her life to what she believes in

Video Man: tenor (C-G) (highish character voice; like the first tenor in a barbershop quartet; a functionary; may come form the ensemble

The Outsider: baritone or bass-baritone (A-G); rough, bearded, woodsman type; an aging rebel but still strong and dynamic

other residents of Box City, Sector 202

N.B.: BOXES was commissioned as a radio opera by KCRW, public radio in Santa Monica, California, and was distributed for broadcast by National Public Radio.


MICHAEL SAHL - Michael was born in Boston in 1934. His father sang, and so his first attachment was to vocal music with words. At 3 years he remembers sitting on his father’s knee singing with him and playing for him. In high school he played the banjo, and later became a classical musician. He graduated from Amherst College in 1955 and for several years mentored classically at Carnegie Hall with Israel Citowitz.  At the same time, he worked in the avant-garde, serving as music director and touring with Judy Collins in the ’60’s. He eventually returned to what he calls 'real music' for instruments and voice.  Michael has written upwards of 40 compositions. The Legacy (written in 2010 with librettist and long-time writing partner Margaret Yard), for example, is not only about history but also about music.  As Composer in Residence for The Center for Cultural Studies at the Graduate Center at CUNY, much of his operatic works are devoted to life/death issues of coping and loving and death - deeply harboring strings of suffering and exultation in our life circumstances.

ERIC SALZMAN - Composer/writer Eric Salzman, one of the founders of the new music theater, is the creator or co-creator of more than two-dozen music-theater pieces for stage, recordings and media and a major figure world-wide in the field.  His work is innovative, involving new vocal techniques and electronic extensions, pluralistic styles and forms, as well as new media technologies. “The True Last Words of Dutch Schultz”, text by Valeria Vasilevski, was premiered and toured in Europe in 1997-8 and later performed by Victoria Bond at her Cutting Edge concert series and at Wall-to-Wall Opera at Symphony Space in 2007; the current instrumental suite was drawn from this music-theater piece. Other recent work includes “Jukebox in the Tavern of Love” with Ms Vasilevski (commissioned by the Western Wind Vocal Ensemble and performed at New York’s Flea Theater and Bargemusic in Brooklyn) and “Accord/Discord” for mezzo-soprano and tango ensemble; texts by Bertholt Brecht (produced in 2009 by the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York and toured in Eastern Europe in 2010). “Big Jim & the Small-time Investors” with librettist Ned Jackson, has had two workshops with the Contemporary Opera and is scheduled for performance by Victoria Bond. Salzman’s “The New Music Theater: Seeing the Voice, Hearing the Body”, with Viennese composer/director Thomas Desi, was published by Oxford in 2008.


If you are interested in this work and would like to talk with the creators, please email your request to info@mainstreetmusicals.orgPlease include: Name of Show, Your Name, Name of Your Company or School Thank you.


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