“America's house of cards is crumbling,” sings one of the inhabitants of the homestead at the center of Dog Days, a new chamber opera featured at the 2016 Prototype Festival. “Well, you can only be on top for so long, I guess,” he shrugs. Set in the middle of a total war of unknown origins, Dog Days places a small cross-section of society under the microscope, and we watch as it dissolves before our eyes. A seemingly typical nuclear family, complete with mother, father, daughter, two sons, and a dog makes up the heart of the work. It is the kind of traditional middle-class family unit exemplary of what politicians refer to as the “real America,” save for the fact that the pet dog is actually a homeless man in a dog costume.

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