Bold. Brave. Brilliant.
Music by Clint Borzoni, Libretto by John de los Santos

The Copper Queen

The opera takes place in room No. 315 of The Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee, Arizona. The action alternates between 1910 and 2010.

 

PART I: 2010

The hotel’s concierge, Mr. Floyd, shows Addison Moore into No. 315, which she is visiting on a healing trip following her grandmother's death. He relates the history of Julia Lowell, a prostitute kept in the hotel by her father, who eventually committed suicide in the room. Julia restless ghost is now alleged to haunt No. 315, although Addison is not a believer. Once left alone, she makes a half-hearted effort to communicate with the spirit, but is unsurprised when there is no response.

 

PART II: 1910

A miner called "Sugar Dog" is waiting for Julia’s attention, while a trio of men outside pound on the door. They all howl for their turn with her, until Julia finally appears. She haggles with Sugar Dog over the rates for her special extras. When he agrees, she ties him to the bed, but just as the excitement begins, he climaxes disappointingly soon. Julia sees him out and declares she won't see anyone else for the night. One of the men from outside enters asks for her company anyway. He tells her his name is Theodore.

 

PART III: 2010

It is now evening. When Addison attempts to use her hair dryer, it sputters and dies. She calls the front desk and is informed that noisy electric devices don't reliably work in No. 315. She is stupefied, and requests more towels be brought up. She tries to speak with Julia again, explaining why there's no reason for any jealousy. Just as Addison is about to resign that the whole thing is a hoax, Julia's words suddenly invade her mouth. She also begins to smell lilac perfume.

 

PART IV: 1910

Julia has just finished a visit with Theodore, who by now she has seen several times. He pays her and leaves, just as Daddy Lowell enters, demanding the cash from Julia. He tells her his friend, Peter Ackerman, is waiting outside and demands she do whatever he wants. Peter is shown in, but when he forces himself on Julia, she fights back. Peter threatens to expose Julia's business unless her father compensates for his silence. Once Peter leaves, Daddy Lowell beats Julia, calling her ungrateful and useless. When he leaves, Julia assures herself that she is still beautiful despite the blood and bruises. Aware that her situation is slowly killing her, she resolves to escape at whatever cost.

 

PART V: 2010

Mr. Floyd brings Addison her towels, and discovers she is now convinced that the room is indeed haunted. She refuses to change rooms despite Mr. Floyd's suggestive offer to relocate her. Addison pleads with Julia to reveal more.

 

PART VI: 1910

Theodore and Julia have been seeing each other regularly. He confesses that he and his wife are moving to Boston in the hopes of better opportunities and starting a family. Julia becomes irate, and Theodore discovers that her father has been beating her. As he admits his marriage is unhappy, Julia convinces him she can be a wife and more to him. Theodore finally agrees that in three weeks he will return for her to escape together.

 

PART VII: 2010

The haunting vision of Julia's longing has unsettled Addison deeply and compounded her own loneliness. She demands the truth as to what became of Julia, but senses that the spirit has left her. When she desperately taunts the room aloud, it angrily responds to her voice.

 

PART VIII: 1910

Daddy Lowell sings to himself while he waits for Julia to return. When she does, he presents her with a new dress for her to wear for him on his birthday. He leaves, while Julia checks on a secret stash of earnings she has hidden under the floorboards. Theodore arrives and reveals that his wife is pregnant and he cannot desert her. Julia pleads with him, but he remains resolute and sadly pushes her away. She insists he take her necklace as a gift for the child, before insisting he leave. Once he does, she prepares to escape alone, but Daddy Lowell enters and reveals he has heard everything. Julia makes one last attempt at freedom, but her father pulls her back and murders her. The room swirls with terrible energy, as strange voices from Julia’s past shake its foundations. Addison transfers to Julia’s time to confront her spirit and reveal a secret that has bonded the women from the very beginning.

 

PART X: 2010

The following morning, Mr. Floyd enters No. 315 as Addison is late for her check out. When he asks her if she experienced anything unusual, she tells him that nothing happened. Once he is gone, Addison assures Julia that she will never be forgotten.