(Peter Homan's Dream)
Music by H. Owen
Book & Libretto by John Jennings
|This is the story
of Peter Homan, a scoundrel but lovable character in the Grand River
Valley of Michigan in about 1870.
As the opera begins, a celebration is in progress in honor of the expected wedding of Dora Dicken to Big Aleck. Food is abundant, and the guests square dance to a century-old fiddle tune that was played by the composer's father, J. M. Reed.
GIVE THE FIDDLER A DRAM
The timber agent, Clint, and chorus share a beautiful moment:
It comes into question whether the wedding will take place, as Aleck and Dora duet.
NEVER WILL I PROMISE YOU TO OBEY
Peter Homan, who has previously shown some interest in Dora, arrives and expresses his vision and desire to become a millionaire. Helping his poor widowed mother run the farm is not the life for Peter Homan!
PETER HOMAN THE MILLIONAIRE
Peter's plan of action is obvious when he tells his mother, "I can cut a million dollar's worth of timber 'twixt Manistee and Cheboygan and they'll never miss a stick!" Widow Homan replies, "Oh, Peter boy you're hopeless!"
YOU'RE A RARE ONE
Clint enters and announces, "There's nothing like a wedding party for recruiting bachelors to leave home." He sings of the life of a lumberjack (another song based on one of J. M. Reed's fiddle tunes).
DREAM OF THE LUMBERJACK
Peter becomes fascinated with the newly arrived parson's daughter, Maggie Mathews. Maggie is strangely attracted to Peter in spite of his boldness, his anger toward Big Aleck, and his threat to elope with Dora.
SEEING YOU IS BELIEVING
Widow Homan learns of Peter's plan to elope with Dora, so Peter locks her in the sow barn. But the word has gotten out, Aleck confronts Peter, and a vicious fight ensues. Alec's haymaker knocks Peter unconscious.
From this point on, the story explores Peter's dreams of wealth and power.
Meanwhile, the men, thinking that Peter has indeed stolen the bride, go after him shouting "Hang the criminal! Hang the thief!"
THE FIGHT SCENE
Maggie implores Widow Homan to tell her of Peter's early life as she searches for an explanation for his erratic behavior. The women duet as Peter's voice floats in from afar.
TELL ME ALL ABOUT HIM
END OF ACT I
The opening of Act II establishes the dream mood. The curtain opens opens with a mostly bare stage with silhouetted figures against the back drop. A chorus of women enter. They move to the stately tempo of a saraband, accompanying Maggie as she sings "All through the day I pray for the soul of Peter Homan."
DREAM PANTOMIME and ALL THROUGH THE DAY I PRAY
Peter's dream takes us to the Ruddy Light Saloon where the owner, Dora Dicken, prepares her employees for the evening's festivities. The loggers arrive and all dance to an old tune.
Clint Baker, the State College Timber Agent, arrives. Clint was hired by the government to scout the Michigan timberlands, noting the location of the finest timber in a ledger to be given to the Governor. These lands will be sold at public auction and the money will go toward the building of the state's land grant college. Clint tells his story in song:
TWIXT MANISTEE AND CHEBOYGAN
When Clint becomes aware that his wife Rosie is about to give birth, he entrusts his valuable ledgers to Peter Homan. Peter sees the opportunity to acquire the wealth he has desired. He obtains the financial backing of Dora Dicken, but first she insists that he pledge never to give his heart away.
NEVER WHILE I LIVE PLEDGE
Peter secretly bids for and buys the 50,000 acres at a low bid of a dollar an acre.
The loggers see that Peter has double-crossed his friend Clint Baker, and they threaten to dunk him in the mill pond or ride him on a rail. But Peter convinces them that his motives coincide with their own interests: The forest will provide jobs and he will pay them double! The loggers exit singing, with Peter on their shoulders.
PETER'S SALES TALK and DOWN THE TITTABAWASSEE RIVER
The following musical interlude is based on DOWN THE TITTABAWASSEE RIVER and was written by Dr. James Niblock.
SCENE CHANGE MUSIC
Peter's dream is now fulfilled. He becomes a millionaire, but his friend, Clint Baker, goes to prison for allowing the college land to be sold prematurely. We see a dimly lighted area with Rosie kneeling, rocking her cradle of pine.
Peter sits in his mansion on a majestic throne, by an elegant table upon which gilded models of ships, mills, and mine-heads lay. His Chinese servants perform:
SERVANTS' DANCE OF OBEISANCE
Peter stops at nothing to add to his fortune. He steps on all who get in his way until he becomes the wealthy Senator of Michigan.
On the 4th of July there is a series of confessionals and the scene climaxes as the mob threatens to hang Peter. Dora comes forward to release Peter, declaring that they had only a business arrangement; Widow Homan and Maggie each wish to take the blame for Peter; but Peter finally admits it was due to his own vanity.
Over the screams of the mob, Maggie shouts "I love you, Peter Homan! If you love me, save yourself!" As Peter tears free of his captors, he is again knocked unconscious by Aleck.
HANG THE CRIMINAL! HANG THE
Peter's dream ends as it began, but Peter awakes a changed man. No longer a dreamer, he tells Maggie of his love for her, and his desire to make them a good life, and help his widowed mother weed the garden. He duets with Maggie and then the entire cast sings a reprise.
I'VE GOT A LITTLE HOUSE and
SEEING YOU IS BELIEVING
END OF ACT II
This summary was adopted from the WBLB-FM radio's notes for the performance of Michigan Dream at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp