Dog and Cat (a miniature opera)


Dog and Cat (a miniature opera)

The initial starting-point for this piece was a gag that has been doing the rounds recently:
All of our dogs think we quit our jobs to spend more time with them.
All of our cats think we got fired for being the loser they always knew we were.

In 2020, during lockdown, the owner of a dog and a cat has just left the room.
Has she just gone to the kitchen for more ice-cream? Is she now actually back at work?
Has she left for ever? Do the pets really want her around all the time anyway?

“Cat” is scored for medium high voice (soprano or tenor), “Dog” for medium low voice (mezzo or baritone).
The characters can be played and sung by anyone: there is no limitation on physicality, ethnicity, age, or gender.

For convenience, I refer to Cat as “she” and Dog as “he”. This can be changed, as required. In the libretto, the pets refer to their owner in different ways: Cat says “she/her/mistress” while Dog says “he/him/master”. This is deliberate:
my idea was to highlight the fact that the pets see their owner in different ways, without realising it. Cats and dogs don’t know what gender pronouns are, so they each use the word they think is right. If you find this approach annoying, then do feel free to ask the pets to harmonise their pronouns.Alternatively, you could use “they/them”, which brings in another level of possible interpretation: perhaps we are looking into the inner dialogue of many cats and many dogs, with multiple owners.

Cat is rather boastful about her independence and her own abilities. We soon see that perhaps she “doth protest too much”, and in fact has enjoyed having the owner at home, more that she can admit. Through her conversation with Dog, she learns to be more comfortable letting her guard down. She likes the sound of her own voice, and enjoys using long words, and singing the occasional melisma.
Dog is simpler, perhaps more honest. But, through his conversation with Cat, he starts to assert himself more confidently. He tends to use monosyllables, and avoids long melodic lines.