In Virtual Heaven 

opera in two acts  

(The film version is screened in one act, 1 hour, 50 min.)

 

Act 1: Nightmare | Waking & contact online | Meeting | Parting in a city
Act 2: Contact online | Meeting in a new town | Parting | Reunion online

Story outline

Act 1

Ivan and Amora, in separate towns, suffer nightmares of their past and their failed marriage, each haunted in their dreams by their former spouse. Waking in anguish they long for love and affirmation. Purely by chance they stumble across one another on the online dating site Seventh Heaven. Their passion is immediately ignited. For a time they chat online, telephone one another, each falling in love with the other’s voice. She travels to meet him in the city, accompanied by her jealous friend Hilvu, who claims to have an errand nearby. Ivan and Amora enjoy a champagne and roses meeting at a hotel, followed by love, and a wonderful dinner at Ivan’s home. However, the following day she returns home, driven by vague concerns for her daughter, Emma. 

Act 2

Before long, Ivan is gripped by doubts about how they can maintain their relationship at such a distance from one another. Amora, conveys a message of hope, inspiring Ivan to travel to her for a longer visit. In this dramatic act their real and virtual identities are suddenly thrown into sharp relief; friction and quarrels result, fuelled by other, external circumstances. They return to their computers in separate rooms of Amora’s home and log-on to Seventh Heaven in order to find each other again. However, Ivan’s disappointment leads him to take an early morning train home, without Amora’s knowledge. Shortly afterwards they are reunited on the dating site and once more exchange the sweetest terms of endearment. They realise that, tragically, they are only able to fully love one another in this virtual heaven, where their identities have been somehow transformed into beguiling dream figures. Nevertheless, the opera has an unexpected and hopeful twist in the final scene.

 

The story in detail

Act 1

Ivan och Amora lie asleep in separate cities. Both dream restlessly of their respective pasts and their broken marriages, about the emptiness, the trials and the borderline traumatic events they have been through with, on one side, a perfect and faultless ex-wife and on the other, a psychopathic ex-husband. However, also played out in these nightmares are scenes of the intimacy and tenderness missing from their relationship. With these nightmares comes a redemptive awakening. Remorseful yet liberated, they pace around their rooms, both filled with a longing to be able to give and accept love. But where can it be found? A total but brief power cut provides the “answer” as everything is plunged into darkness. When, after a momentary blackout, the current is restored, their attention is attracted as their computer screens suddenly flicker back to life. Amora goes to her computer in the hope of finding a romantic film playing at a nearby cinema. Ivan connects more aimlessly. However, both of them are confronted by an advertisement for a dating site named Seventh Heaven and are immediately attracted by its aura of romance. Soon, with the help of customer support, they are both registered, logged on and creating their user profiles in the hope of finding a partner. Almost straight away they stumble across each other. Sparks fly immediately as they write intensely in front of their screens. The following morning Ivan wakes in a state of such exhilaration that he wonders what is actually happening inside him. However, he is soon disappointed to learn that Amora is lying about her age. Dismayed by this he breaks off contact, unaware that Amora is ashamed and unable to forgive herself for this deception.

Despite this, as this initial passion had brought with it such an intensity of feeling, with time Ivan is unable to resist searching for her once again on Seventh Heaven and soon they speak on the telephone for the first time, each falling in love as intensely with the other’s voice as they had previously with the written word. After a couple of months they arrange to meet in the city where Ivan lives. Prior to her departure, Amora expresses her fear that they will not love one another when they meet in person and that perhaps they should therefore hide themselves behind a pillar, speaking only on the telephone. They can after all be sure that they love each other’s voice.

Amora take the train to Ivan. However, she is accompanied by her friend, a jealous woman named Hilvu who has insisted on joining her under the pretext of running an errand in the proximity of Ivan’s city.

Ivan and Amora now meet in the real world for the first time, champagne awaiting on their table and Ivan clutching a blood red rose. Amora exudes warmth. She is beautiful, smiling and laughing shyly. Ivan lives up to her dreams, exceeds them even. She is speechless before this man clutching a rose. The intense love between them, something that grew in their meetings on the dating site and was confirmed during long telephone conversations, can move mountains. They love and laugh by turns. After a wonderful dinner and a night spent at Ivan’s home they must say their farewells at the train station the following day as Amora is concerned about her daughter’s health.

 

Act 2

They meet once again on Seventh Heaven. Ivan now expresses his doubts about their relationship, about how they can keep it alive at such a great distance from one another. It is now that Amora conveys a message of hope and inspiration to dispel all doubts. She sends him a link to a romantic song she has just heard on YouTube, about the need to nurture love, to water it tenderly as if it were a flower. This awakens hope and soon culminates in a mutual decision. He will travel to her, this time for a longer visit beneath the same roof.

Thus a second meeting takes place, immediately before Christmas in Amora’s small town, Amorvilla. Love is soon interspersed with a certain friction as the couple’s mundane, “real” identities must be confronted. The ticking bomb of her burnout, coupled with her problematic relationship with her daughter, for example, takes him off-guard. On top of this, Amora’s friend Hilvu also wishes to break up the relationship between the two, harbouring a wish to keep Amora to herself, to in some way…take care of her. Hilvu quite simply does not want to allow Amora to love this Ivan. This manifests itself during a pre-Christmas visit by Hilvu to Amora’s home when she claims that Ivan, listening to music in another room, must surely be disturbing the neighbours – even though he himself considers the piece of music in question to be quite tranquil.

After Hilvu has left the house, Amora confronts Ivan, who is still sitting listening to music, complaining that he might be disturbing the neighbours. This causes Ivan some irritation. At first he thinks that it is Amora herself who thinks the volume is too high and he can’t understand why she would attack him in this way. However, when it emerges that the complaint originated with Hilvu, who he already considers to be a man-hater, his anger is turned toward her.

The dramatic confrontation and commotion increases to such a degree that a neighbour calls the police, who dispatch two arrogant and threatening constables. They take Ivan to the police station for questioning, claiming that he is under the influence of drugs. After this ordeal, and despite the restraining order issued to him by the police, he returns to Amora’s house. Despite her palpitations Amora greets him with open arms. However, having experienced his temper and out of a general fear of once again finding herself in a loveless relationship, she chooses to retreat to her bedroom. From there she contacts him on Seventh Heaven, ending her message with the words “I will always love you, Ivan.” Before they fall asleep he replies, “I understand, Amora. Goodnight my love.”

The following morning Ivan wakes alone. Disappointed and saddened by the lack of affirmation, of the physical intimacy and companionship he despite everything had hoped for, he leaves for home. He realises how difficult it will be to share a common space in the real world. The couple are reunited later that same day, each beside their computer in their respective homes, when they once more log on to Seventh Heaven. With one another’s photograph on their computer screens they once again exchange the sweetest terms of endearment in a virtual world, beyond reality’s problems and their own malevolent demons, behind their optimal, compatible identities, welcomed once again by the internet customer support who assisted them previously.

So it remains, that Ivan and Amora are tragically only able to fully love one another in this virtual heaven, where their identities have been somehow transformed into beguiling dream figures.    

[Translation into English by David Harding]