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Photo: James Matthew Daniel, used courtesy of BMP
John Kelly as Prince, Lauren Worsham as Lisa

Little, David T.

Dog Days (2008-12)

Duration: 127 minutes
Opera in three acts for 6 singers, 1 actor and amplified chamber ensemble

Libretto by Royce Vavrek, after the short story by Judy Budnitz (E)

2S,M,2T,Bar,actor; cl(=bcl)-perc(2)-pft-elec.git-vln-vla-vlc-db

NOTE: The hiring of a sound designer is a condition/requirement for permission.

Abbreviations (PDF).

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere
Alexander Kasser Theatre, Montclair, NJ
Robert Woodruff, director
Conductor: Alan Pierson
Company: Beth Morrison Projects


PrinceActor/dancer (non-singing)


The country has fallen into chaos as an undefined war rages on US soil. Roads are closed except for military use. There is no work. Progressively, the schools close. Food runs out. The power gets shut off. Neighbors mysteriously vanish.

Those without homes beg for food at the porches of those who do, but no one has anything to give. A family of five—two parents, two sons, and a young daughter, Lisa—do what they can to survive. They eat wild grass from the yard. The father goes hunting every day, but all the animals have fled. "They know something we don’t," he says. One day, Prince arrives.

Prince, a man in a dog suit, befriends Lisa and provides her with an escape from the isolated boredom of her life. Lisa’s mother supports this friendship. Prince is her pet, though Lisa’s father, Howard, opposes it.

Howard confronts Prince. "Stand up," he says. "You're a human being, for God's sake. Stand up like a man … I'll give you my own clothes if you'll … stand up like a man and talk to me. I know you can talk." Prince barks; Howard chases him away. Conditions continue to worsen.

It’s winter now. Dark early, and cold. The family hasn’t eaten in weeks, maybe months. "I wish I had a steak," says one brother. The other brother adds "I heard in China people eat dogs." There is silence in the room.

Howard rises, takes his rifle. "Where are you going? Howard--don't--don't--" says mother. "He's a man, Howard! A man! You can't-" she screams. "He's a dog," Howard replies. "He's an animal." Lisa tries to stop them, but she is too late. She arrives just in time to see her father and brothers descend upon Prince, snarling.

Press Quotes
"It's only a matter of time before this riveting show is confirmed as a groundbreaking American classic."
—The New York Times, January 2013

"Mr. Little deftly incorporates music theater as well as traditional operatic writing, and the score has a rhythmic pulse that reflects his background as a rock drummer."
—The Wall Street Journal, October 2012

"a taut, nuanced work that clawed beneath the surface of every situation...its poetry is indelible and affecting."
“Think about it: When was the last time a new opera got under your skin the way an Edward Albee play does?"
—The New York Times, October 2012

"It is difficult to think of anything with that kind of power and originality on any other opera stage in the area."
—The Star Ledger, October 2012

Recommended Recording

James Bobick/Marnie Breckenridge/Cherry Duke/John Kelly/Michael Marcotte/Peter Tantsits/Lauren Worsham/Newspeak/Alan Pierson
Via Records (digital release)

Buy the recording from iTunes

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