Set in Hoboken, New Jersey, the play is built around Ralph Bellini’s pursuit of romance, his search for emotional escape from the constricting life he leads as a widower sharing a small apartment with his selfish, bitter sister Rose, whose husband left her 22 years ago. She never got over it and, being Catholic, refused to divorce. Ralph is a frustrated opera singer who yearns to bring into his daily life some of the grand passions he once imagined enacting on the stage. And he cherishes the memories of the performances he has attended at the Metropolitan Opera in Manhattan, a temple of romance lying just across the Hudson—a shrine where he could experience those passions vicariously.
But those trips to the opera with his late wife were few, and now lie long in the past. The
present for Ralph is Hoboken and his Italian-American community—a world that both nurtures and constrains him. His dreams only come to life on the stage of the Met in Manhattan—which he can rarely afford to visit—but his reality is defined by the hemmed-in dog-run in which he walks each day, until he meets someone…