an operatic monodrama about toxic masculinity





Solo bass-baritone (with large falsetto and various extended techniques)
Chamber ensemble of 2 saxophones, 2 percussion, electronic fixed media.
Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes


Plucked from the tradition of the medieval storytelling bard, MANO A MANO is an opera surveying toxic masculinity through the ages. This new work needles Anglo-Saxon epics with personal anecdote, pseudo-history, Antonio Banderas movies, tangents about the Romans, Thai boxing, and stories about New Jersey. Writer/performer Paul Pinto poses the question "what if Sir Gawain and Beowulf were fighting over killing the same dragon?" and answers it with ninety minutes of virtuosic chants and rants, song and spectacle, as he bobs and weaves between passages of puckishly quick verbiage and aching melancholia.

MANO A MANO is performed by one solo vocalist embodying all the characters across a five-octave range of timbres: sweet, throaty and viscerally guttural. The musical score peppers deeply rich electronic textures with a mix of wild saxophone and percussion improvisation, as well as meditative drones, tones and beats.

The audience is seated at an Arthurian round table, as the bard performs a series of vignettes and tangents (like photographs of moments explored in heartbreaking and comedic detail.) The opera begins with the decapitated King Edwin spitting a pseudo-history of two "heroes": Beowulf St. Georgie and Elderly Sir Gawain, each on a quest to slay the scapegoated She-Dragon, who they blame as the cause of men's militarism. When they finally meet, a Scribe depicts the braggadocio as the two attempt to deceive and intimidate each other ahead of their quest, which ultimately ends in the beheading of almost everybody.



"Paul Pinto is one of the most exceptional composers in new music, with a sensibility that can handle deadly seriousness and wicked humour via means that seem bizarre on the surface but are thought through and controlled."
-The Wire

"Paul Pinto was captivatingly unhinged, his technique and lovely tone warped to frantically switch octaves and follow tunnels of complicated thoughts with a breathless, unbroken line."
-The New York Times

Paul Pinto - Composer/Librettist/Performer

Kristin Marting - Director/Creative Producer

Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew - Lighting/projection designer

Jian Jung - scenic designer

Philip White - sound designer

Chloe Treat - choreographic consultant