Set in the darkened wood of a public park, where men cruising each other move toward clandestine sexual encounters, Proposal for The Side of the Mountain takes place at sundown, when daylight releases it’s hold and the anonymity and perilousness of night descend. The central action of the opera involves the nameless sexual meeting of two men - the baritone older and more experienced, the tenor young but already mourning his youth. While the two lose themselves in physical intimacy, the voice of a third man (the countertenor) is heard calling for his dog, which has wandered off in the mountainside chaparral. As the encounter intensifies, the younger man hears the lost dog being set upon by a pack of coyotes. He wants to call out to the owner, but is paralyzed - he can bear neither to interrupt the tryst nor to make his presence known to police.
Proposal for The Side of The Mountain explores issues of public and private space, corporal and spiritual expressions of passion, and the wooded landscape as an antidote to the urban environment.
Published by the Santa Monica Museum of Art to accompany the exhibition Simon Leung: Proposal for The Side of the Mountain An Opera by Michael Webster and Simon Leung. July 13 - August 30 2002