The opera focuses on the inner lives of cashiers in a shopping centre: showing what lies behind their mechanical “Good afternoon!“, “Thank you!“, “Have a good day!”, and fake smiles. Faceless, robot-like shop workers found in everyday life are transformed into unique and lively characters of the opera. Their secret thoughts and biographies turn into short, personal dramas. The characters of different sales clerks embody universal archetypes, conveying the predominant social landscape. The libretto is a revealing mosaic of spoken, literary language and documentary.
The atmosphere of the supermarket is established through glimmering and buzzing installation of daylight lamps and environmental sounds, connecting the audience to the stage and the 10 cashiers. The set itself is very minimalist. Real goods – the recognizable décor of a shopping centre – exist only in acoustic and verbal form.
Monotonous beeping of each item being scanned is the key sound of the whole opera. It gets louder or quieter, but it is always present. Songs of the cashiers that accompany the beeping are as monotonous as the very process of shopping and selling. The music here serves to emphasise the thoughts of the characters, facilitating the hearing of their voices.
Creators of the opera try to avoid any moral or condemnatory suggestion: critical attitude towards capitalism is expressed through humour, irony and poetry. Mosaic of destinies of different cashiers is transformed into a chorus, a universal poem suggesting the pleasure of consumption.
Clever, charming and quietly subversive. Whatever critique of capitalist entrapment and consumerist obsession might be implied is conveyed with subtlety and wit.
Steve Smith, The New York Times
It’s a tour de force of deadpan comedy… comes wrapped in a score of incantatory, almost liturgical serenity.
Justin Davidson, New York Magazine
…minimalist textures that evoke the swirl of everyday life – banality transformed into art. The opera is witty and poignant.
Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal
A tightly constructed, multi-layered creation, its humor pierced by melancholy.
Alex Ross, The New Yorker
It’s like a mini masterpiece. It’s just nothing to take away, nothing to add – it’s very solid, very simple and very real.