And she persists...


The Ten-Block Walk is an hour-long chamber opera for five singers, mezzo lead with soprano, mezzo, tenor, and baritone supportive characters. Set to an original libretto by Christie Lee Gibson, the story centers on an old woman named Mrs. Otis. She is positively elderly, and she is determined to walk ten blocks to attend a Shakespeare seminar even though she requires the use of a walker.

Once Mrs. Otis enters the stage, she never leaves. It takes her the entire opera to cross diagonally from upstage to downstage, and each scene of the opera shifts and materializes around her as she gradually moves. Mrs. Otis is a slow and persistent character, and despite the challenges of a long walk over ten different city blocks, she persists. She persists through the pain of falling, she persists when she faces her own looming mortality as she passes a graveyard, and she persists even as individuals mistreat and cajole her.

The additional four singers in the production must portray a number of different characters across the ten blocks. At any given point, they may be neighbors, receptionists, cruel panhandlers, car drivers, young children, clergymen, or college students. The final production will include dancers as well.

Each of the ten scenes in The Ten-Block Walk represent a different block on Mrs. Otis’s way to her destination, and, in the opera, each of the scenes represents a world of its own. Of course, there are musical themes and motives that carry across the opera from scene to scene, but, as is typical of Erin Huelskamp’s musical explorations, each scene embraces a new eclectic atmosphere, much as each new block in a large city would be its own microcosm. Christie and Erin hope you enjoy this musical telling of an old person’s odyssey.

Each block is a world and movement unto itself:

  • The Neighbor

  • The Major Intersection

  • The Pan-Handlers

  • The Playground

  • The College Students

  • The Pigeons

  • The Graveyard

  • The Dunkin’ Donuts

  • The Busker

  • The Arrival

The Neighbor from Scene 1Pic by Scott Bump
The College Students from Scene 5Pic by Cayuga Strategies LLC


Mrs. Otis, aka the old woman, mezzo-soprano

A quartet of four singers (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone) will portray the characters listed below:

Neighbor, soprano

Pan-Handlers, a quartet: soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and baritone

Young Girls, two sopranos and one mezzo-soprano

Students, a quartet: soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and baritone

Dunkin’ Donuts Worker, tenor

Receptionist, soprano

Instructor, mezzo-soprano

While intended to be performed by five singers, The Ten-Block Walk can be performed with 5-19 performers, depending on doubling choices. Mrs. Otis is the only part that cannot be doubled as she is on-stage during the entire opera.