Composers and their stage works 

Fathers and Sons

Thomas Babe

The scene is a bar in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, in 1876, where Wild Bill Hickok, now ageing and growing blind, holds court. Despite his failing powers, Bill is respected and feared by the colourful habitués of the Number Ten saloon, and even the suggestion that he was a ruthless, cowardly killer who shot his victims in the back cannot dispel the aura of invincibility which surrounds him. But his confidence is shaken by the arrival of Jack McCall, a fiery tempered young desperado who vows to kill him and who claims to be Bill's illegitimate son. Taunted by Calamity Jane, McCall pours out the bitterness he feels at Bill's abandonment and humiliation of himself and his mother and, as the tension mounts, it is dear that, this time, Bill will not resist the inevitable. His death is, in a sense, an expiation, and for his killer, a desperate attempt at communication with the man he both loves and hates and cannot reach in any other way.