— chamber opera in one act —
Length: 30 minutes
Forces: piano, rubab, tabla, sarinda
Music: Mir Khan Moqori and Evan Mack
Libretto: Yelena Biberman
BOB: CIA agent from Worcester, Massachusetts [lyric baritone]
OSMANI: Taliban’s deputy commander [lyric tenor]
WOMAN: ghost of Afghanistan’s past and present [lyric soprano]
September 15, 2001 – a quiet hotel in Quetta, Pakistan
We hold our breath. The mightiest nation is about to react to the deadliest attack on its soil. America is locked and loaded. Its target is a country fourteen times smaller, three million times poorer. But Afghanistan is no easy win. For two millennia and counting, it has been the final resting place of empires.
This is not going to end well, at least one person thinks. This person is a CIA agent. Bob runs America’s spy operations in the region. He believes a dialogue is worth a shot. He assigns himself the mission of meeting with the Taliban, who run Afghanistan while sheltering Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden – the mastermind of 9/11. Bob is in luck. He arranges a secret meeting in a quiet hotel in Quetta, Pakistan, with the Taliban’s deputy commander, Mullah Osmani.
The story is little-known, but the ending is familiar. America plunges into its longest war, the Taliban return with a vengeance. The world looks ever more dangerous. On to the next war. The Quetta dialogue on the eve of U.S. invasion of Afghanistan is a story that raises timely and timeless questions: What prevents people from making history? Are the decisive battles outside or inside us? If politics is a never-ending game with no outcome final, what is victory?
A cross-cultural collaboration of Afghan and American artists and musicians