Commissioned by San Francisco Opera
- 2(II:pic,afl).2(II:ca).2(I:asx.II:Ebcl,bcl).2(II:cbn)/2.2(I:cnt).2(II:btbn).1/timp(perc).perc/syn.hp/str (220.127.116.11.2)
- 2S, 2Mz, 2T, 2Bar; 3 non-singing roles
- 2 hr 45 min
- Libretto by Philip Littell, based on the play by Tennessee Williams
The opera is in three acts and takes place at the home of Stanley and Stella Kowalski at Elysian Fields, New Orleans.
BLANCHE DUBOIS: Soprano
STANLEY KOWALSKI: Baritone
STELLA KOWALSKI: Soprano
HAROLD MITCHELL (MITCH): Tenor
EUNICE HUBBELL: Mezzo-Soprano
STEVE HUBBELL: Tenor
A YOUNG COLLECTOR: Tenor
MEXICAN WOMAN: Mezzo-Soprano
NURSE: Non-singing role
DOCTOR: Non-singing role
PABLO GONZALES: Non-singing, non-speaking role
Act I, Scene 1
Blanche DuBois has suffered the loss of both her ancestral home and her job when she arrives in New Orleans to visit her sister Stella, who has married Stanley Kowalski, an ex-G.I. trucker.
Act I, Scene 2 a few days later
Stanley, infuriated by Blanche's artificial airs, her suggestive behavior, and what he regards as her loss of his wife's birthright, is determined to expose Blanche's lies about her past-which is more tragic and sordid than he is able to imagine.
Act I, Scene 3 that night
During a poker game Blanche meets Harold Mitchell (Mitch), a workmate of Stanley's, very much tied to his mother's apron strings. Blanche sets her sights on him. Stanley, drunk, breaks up the evening and strikes Stella, whom he regards as siding against him with Blanche. After this violence, and against Blanche's advice, Stella returns to Stanley's bed. The next morning Stanley overhears Blanche entreating her sister to leave him.
Act II, Scene 1 some weeks later
Stanley tells Stella that he has a friend who is making inquiries about Blanche in her hometown of Laurel. When he and his now-pregnant wife go out for the evening, Blanche attempts to seduce a young paper boy, pulling back at the last minute. She later goes out with Mitch on a date.
Act II, Scene 2 that night
An amorous Mitch unburdens his heart to Blanche, who in turn tells him of her brief marriage to a young homosexual and how she blames herself for his suicide.
Act III, Scene 1 some weeks later, Blanche's birthday
Mitch is late for the party. Stanley, who feels that his home and marriage are both threatened by Blanche, breaks up the celebration when he reveals that his friend has discovered Blanche's unsavory reputation in Laurel for seducing young men, and the fact that she had been told to leave town. He hands Blanche a one-way ticket back home and tells her that Mitch now knows everything and will not be coming around again. Thus begins the fragmentation of Blanche's mind.
Act III, Scene 2 later that night
Stella has been taken to a hospital for a premature delivery. Mitch, drunk, invades the apartment and bitterly reproaches Blanche: just as her desperate hopes lie with him, his had lain with her. They have both lost their emotional refuge. His denunciation of her as someone too unclean to enter his mother's house and the appearance of a Mexican woman selling flowers for the dead are the triggers that start to unhinge Blanche's mind.
Act III, Scene 3 later
Blanche's fragmentation is completed when Stanley rapes her.
Act III, Scene 4 some days later
Blanche prepares to leave for a visit to a fictitious old admirer. In fact Stella, unable to believe in Blanche's accusations against Stanley, is packing Blanche's clothes for her to take to the asylum when the doctor arrives. Now she depends — in a new way — on "the kindness of strangers."