A Nightmare Cabaret Opera in One Act

Music by Daron Hagen  |  Words by Paul Muldoon


"One might say the 'subject' of the 'dramatic torso' that Paul and I ginned up was the relationship between appearance and reality. What kept Paul on track, he says, during the creation of Taco and Dumdum (both IRA volunteers), was 'the realization that the nightmarish nature of the piece [was] grounded in, true to, Taco and Dumdum's nightmarish experiences in Northern Ireland, where appearance and reality are extremely difficult to establish, where an expert on the tragedies of Euripides may turn out to be a trigger-puller.' As for me, I wrote music for four deeply alienated individuals suffering from denial and an inability to connect emotionally with one another. Their truths are buried in pasts to which they return in increasingly spasmodic, acid-trip-like flashbacks... it's a slow-motion spiritual meltdown. These people are desperately unhappy, entertaining themselves in order not to have to face the fact that they feel dead inside." — Daron Hagen, from a 2011 interview.

Hagen’s music, smoochily played by a cabaret quartet, blends idioms with soaring melodies that send the characters looping off in arias of self-revelation.
— The Times of London
You cannot deny the theatrical audacity of ‘’Vera of Las Vegas,’’ which elicited many cheers from the packed house.
— The New York Times

Premiere Production

European Premiere Tour
Opera Theater (Ireland)
Dublin, 2004

Staged Premiere
26 June 2003 
Thalia Theater at Symphony Space, New York City 
The Center for Contemporary Opera / Robert Frankenberry

Concert Premiere
8 March 1996
Ham Concert Hall, Las Vegas, Nevada
UNLV Opera Theater / Donna Hagen

Running Time

58 minutes, with no intermission


major roles

  • Taco Bell (tenor)
  • Dumdum Devine (baritone)
  • Doll Common (soprano)
  • Vera Allemagne (tenor or countertenor)

supporting roles

  • Catchalls (5-12 female voices)
  • Trench and Trilby (mute)

Click on the score image above to view the p/c score of the "NY Cabaret Version" of the show.