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Synopsis

BREATH OF LIFE

An Opera in Two Acts
Music by J. Todd Frazier, Libretto by Michael Remson

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This is a story about advances in medicine meeting, in an unprecedented way, ethical and spiritual challenges, through this most dramatic and transformative procedure - a heart transplant.

More specifically, it is a story of a man who is extremely ill, and who's only chance to live, as he sees it, is through another human's tragic death.  He has already lost a child five years before and subsequently his relationship with his wife deteriorated, so he has no one, and though sick, and afraid of death, is conflicted, and does not know if he deserves or wants a second chance.

And because this procedure impacts so many, those who receive a second chance, those who provide a second chance, and everyone supporting the process, it is also the simultaneous stories of:

  • a donor's mother struggling to come to terms with what has just happened to her family and whether it is spiritually right as a Christian to donate her young daughter's heart, asking the hospital priest, "what does God want me to do?" and "Father, can't you decide for me?"

  • a doctor's training being put to the test, being brought to the point where medical skills and textbook definitions stop, where he must put his faith and experience in the art of his field.

  • a resident, who, because of her heritage from Japan and its Shinto influence, believes that taking a heart would be like taking a soul and would affect the afterlife.  She struggles with what it means to put one's heart in another, what her role should be in assisting the doctor, and how far her faith will allow her to be part of the process.

For the procedure to be successful and for life and spirit to be renewed, all the characters, reacting under the most extreme situations, are required to take a leap of faith - they are forced to confront their most personal beliefs and open themselves to new interpretations.  The opera tells the story of these interdependent/interlocking leaps of faith.
 

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