THree Way


THREE One-ACT Operas (120')

Written: 2012-16
Duration: 120'
Instrumentation: singers—2 sopranos, 2 mezzo-sopranos, tenor, countertenor, baritone, bass-baritone; ensemble—flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, horn, 2 violins, viola, cello, bass, percussion, piano (doubling synthesizer), conductor.
Publisher: Bill Holab Music

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(3 singers: soprano, tenor and baritone) [ca. 40']
Not so far in the future, Maya (soprano) lives with her android lover named Joe (tenor). This interactive programmed Companion looks and sounds human—only better. Still, Maya wants more complexity from Joe. She has technician Dax (baritone) come by to install new experimental software, with surprising results.


(2 singers: mezzo soprano and bass-baritone) [ca. 30']
Mistress Salomé (mezzo-soprano) is a high-priced dominatrix in a private dungeon, and today she has a new client (bass-baritone), a cocky businessman. Even though he's the one who pays to be humiliated, he’s prickly and aggressive. The “session” goes to places no one expected.


(8 singers: 2 sopranos, 2 mezzo-sopranos, tenor, countertenor, baritone, bass-baritone) [ca. 50']
A party is taking place at a country mansion. It’s not a dinner gathering or holiday celebration: it’s a masquerade, hosted by Pleasure Pilgrims, an online community of sensualists and pleasure seekers. People from all walks of life come to shed outside selves, put on a mask and push the limits of erotic expression. Tonight four couples will face their deepest taboos. 

Synopsis and Libretto © Copyright 2016 David Cote.

Performance History

World PremiereNashville OperaJohn Hoomes, Director, Dean Williamson, Conductor, January 27, 28 and 29, 2017.
NYC Premiere: Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), American Modern EnsembleJohn Hoomes, Director, Dean Williamson, Conductor, June 15, 16, 17 and 18, 2017.
The Companion Semi-Staged Performance: American Opera Projects and American Modern Ensemble, Walker Lewis, director, Tyson Deaton, conductor, presented by Ear Heart Music, Roulette, Brooklyn, NY, April 22, 2014.
Safe Word Un-Staged Performance: Fort Worth Opera Frontiers Showcase, Tyson Deaton, conductor, Fort Worth, TX, May 4-9. 2014.
Safe Word Un-Staged Workshop PerformanceAmerican Opera Projects (AOP) as part of AOP's Composers & The Voice program, Brooklyn, NY, September, 7th and 9th, 2012.

Press Quotes

An excellent comic opera that will appeal to audiences well steeped in opera, as well as those who are new to the experience... Paterson is a highly skilled composer who writes in a melodic, tonal style. His versatility was most impressive and his scoring was superb. It gave the outstanding musicians of the American Modern Ensemble the type of rewarding challenges that players most welcome. yet in ways that neither interfered with hearing the singers nor distracted from the drama. Cote’s libretto was lively and delicious, never trite, never obvious. John Hoome’s stage direction was clever, efficient and engaging and Dean Williamson conducted with elegance and enthusiasm.
— Opera News
In three acts, the composer and librettist explore a trio of carnal situations, often with surprisingly touching—and funny—results… Paterson’s score is tonal but eclectic … his writing showcases the voice naturally. [Cote’s] concision and comic timing have a Sondheim-esque edge … his words are well-chiseled, offering plenty of laughs, even wry comments on the operatic genre itself. … If Three Way perhaps brings up more questions than it answers – about sex, love, death, fear, and the need to connect with other humans – it does so with wit and sophistication… Though the opera is intended for adults, there’s no nudity in this smart, economical production, and sexual activities are presented in suggestive silhouettes.
— Musical America
a sophisticated, exceptionally romantic, and even tender take on the silly vagaries of sex. Young newcomers to opera will delight in this lighthearted work. It’s accessible and well sung; it’s also smartly eccentric. … Clearly the kind of three way worth having.
— Parterre Box
Rarely do we find a postmodern opera that builds in time for audiences to belly laugh, an opera that encapsulates the complexity and depth of evolving identity and sexuality, and an opera that is both elegant and accessible. In Nashville Opera’s production of Three Way, we find all of those things, simultaneously. This production levels the audience’s playing field in a sophisticated way: pairing common, yet updated, operatic tropes with relevant, topical humor and relatable music.
— Schmopera
An intriguing treatise on power, passion and human connection... Highly accessible! Cote has an obvious gift for humor, yet there also are moments of genuine tenderness. Paterson’s music is mesmerizing, beautifully supporting the story... Paterson’s music is rich and vibrant—Cote’s libretto offers an unexpected blend of whimsy and wistfulness.
— The Tennessean
[Three Way Voted Best New Opera of 2017] Composer Robert Paterson and librettist David Cote worked confidently in the Mozart-Da Ponte tradition, creating arias of beauty and humor.
— Nashville Scene
The libretto was provocative and relevant to the 21st century. The music was interesting and accessible with real arias. The libretto was brilliant. … What a pleasure to hear music that is accessible and lined up well with the libretto, a feature missing from most contemporary American opera… Major props to composer Robert Paterson… a delightful evening.
— Voce di Meche innovative - and, yes, occasionally explosive - cocktail of opera buffa, sex comedy, science fiction, psychological study and social commentaries, all supported by an appropriately gritty score... wildly, yet smartly, entertaining.
— Classical Music Rocks
A titillating and clever comic opera – the piece explores the future of sex and love, with all the humor and sorrow those subjects require.
— Time Out New York
An effortlessly funny, clever and deeply resonant opera, in which the music and the story fuel one another to create an entertaining and meaningful theatrical experience.
— Opera News
Strikingly sonorous ensemble writing... breezily urbane...
— Opera Magazine
If you think that opera is archaic and unsexy, the first-ever Fringe show from Opera Orlando will blow your … mind.... [Three Way] should serve as ample proof that this antique art form can still address relevant, and even risqué, topics as well as pop culture does – only with a lot more vibrato.
— Orlando Weekly
You don’t have to be an opera fan to find laughs in these comic pieces... Paterson has composed some tuneful melodies... Cote can turn a phrase, and knows his topics... Opera meets chains and leather — without a Valkyrie in sight... If you don’t like opera (or don’t think you do), but you like Fringe (or sex) this might be just the ticket for you. Just don’t expect a similar experience the next time “Tosca” comes to town.
— Orlando Sentinel
While gender-bending performers have graced opera stages for centuries, “Masquerade” contains what may be the first characters that self-identify as gender fluid in song.
Robert Paterson’s brilliant score provided a magical counterpoint… a highly enjoyable comic opera... the elements came together in a fun way that made “The Companion” a highly enjoyable comic opera.
Paterson conveyed full emotional resonance, even in comic punch lines.
— OPERA Shanghai