premiered works

three way

Music by robert paterson

Libretto by david cote

Three Way

Three Way is a new opera on the present and future of sex and love comprised of three, playful one-acts.


(3 singers: soprano, tenor and baritone) [ca. 40']
Not so far in the future, Maya (soprano) lives with her android lover named Joe (tenor). This interactive programmed Companion looks and sounds human—only better. Still, Maya wants more complexity from Joe. She has technician Dax (baritone) come by to install new experimental software, with surprising results.


(2 singers: mezzo soprano and bass-baritone) [ca. 30']
Mistress Salomé (mezzo-soprano) is a high-priced dominatrix in a private dungeon, and today she has a new client (bass-baritone), a cocky businessman. Even though he's the one who pays to be humiliated, he’s prickly and aggressive. The “session” goes to places no one expected.


(8 singers: 2 sopranos, 2 mezzo-sopranos, tenor, countertenor, baritone, bass-baritone) [ca. 50']
A party is taking place at a country mansion. It’s not a dinner gathering or holiday celebration: it’s a masquerade, hosted by Pleasure Pilgrims, an online community of sensualists and pleasure seekers. People from all walks of life come to shed outside selves, put on a mask and push the limits of erotic expression. Tonight four couples will face their deepest taboos. 


David Cote   Librettist

David Cote



A titillating and clever comic opera – the piece explores the future of sex and love, with all the humor and sorrow those subjects require.
— Time Out New York

An excellent comic opera that will appeal to audiences well steeped in opera, as well as those who are new to the experience... Paterson is a highly skilled composer who writes in a melodic, tonal style. His versatility was most impressive and his scoring was superb. It gave the outstanding musicians of the American Modern Ensemble the type of rewarding challenges that players most welcome. yet in ways that neither interfered with hearing the singers nor distracted from the drama. Cote’s libretto was lively and delicious, never trite, never obvious. John Hoome’s stage direction was clever, efficient and engaging and Dean Williamson conducted with elegance and enthusiasm.”
Opera News

In three acts, the composer and librettist explore a trio of carnal situations, often with surprisingly touching—and funny—results… Paterson’s score is tonal but eclectic … his writing showcases the voice naturally. [Cote’s] concision and comic timing have a Sondheim-esque edge … his words are well-chiseled, offering plenty of laughs, even wry comments on the operatic genre itself. … If Three Way perhaps brings up more questions than it answers – about sex, love, death, fear, and the need to connect with other humans – it does so with wit and sophistication… Though the opera is intended for adults, there’s no nudity in this smart, economical production, and sexual activities are presented in suggestive silhouettes.”
Musical America

“An intriguing treatise on power, passion and human connection... Highly accessible! Cote has an obvious gift for humor, yet there also are moments of genuine tenderness. Paterson’s music is mesmerizing, beautifully supporting the story... Paterson’s music is rich and vibrant—Cote’s libretto offers an unexpected blend of whimsy and wistfulness.”
The Tennessean

“An effortlessly funny, clever and deeply resonant opera, in which the music and the story fuel one another to create an entertaining and meaningful theatrical experience. ”
— Opera News

“Strikingly sonorous ensemble writing... breezily urbane...”
— Opera Magazine

“You don’t have to be an opera fan to find laughs in these comic pieces... Paterson has composed some tuneful melodies... Cote can turn a phrase, and knows his topics... Opera meets chains and leather — without a Valkyrie in sight... If you don’t like opera (or don’t think you do), but you like Fringe (or sex) this might be just the ticket for you. Just don’t expect a similar experience the next time “Tosca” comes to town.”
— Orlando Sentinel


Duration 120' / 2 intermissions

Commission Development by American Opera Projects as part of AOP’s Composers & the Voice program. Additional development by the Fort Worth Opera Frontiers Showcase.

Premiere January 27, 2017; Nashville Opera; American Opera Projects; Dean Williamson, conductor; John Hoomes, director.

Roles (13) The Companion: Maya · soprano ; Joe · tenor ; Dax - baritone ; Safe Word: Mistress Salomé - mezzo-soprano ; Client - bass-baritone ; Masquerade: 2 sopranos ; 2 mezzo-sopranos ; tenor ; countertenor ; baritone ; bass-baritone

Instrumentation Singers2 sopranos, 2 mezzo-sopranos, tenor, countertenor, baritone, bass-baritone; Ensembleflute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, horn, 2 violins, viola, cello, bass, percussion, piano (doubling synthesizer), conductor.

Publisher Bill Holab Music / Staged performances of this work require licensing through the publisher.

Official website: http://robertpaterson.com/three-way