COOP - A Rock Opera:  libretto by Robert J Koenig
© Robert J Koenig 2018
February 11 2018 1755 GMT

COOP - A NYC Rock Opera Coop

Act I

Scene 1

Scene 2

Opera is the ritualization of emotion through the human voice.   Barry Kosky 

An act is a part of a play defined by elements such as rising action, climax and resolution. A scene is a part of an act defined with the changing of characters.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_(drama) 

Classical play structure dictates 3 acts:  Shakespeare used 5.

Landlords have been fucking their tenants and insurance companies have been fucking their policyholders since the beginning of time.  This rock opera is about a landlord and an insurance company that conspired, jointly, to do exactly that.

Act I Scene 1

We open in an upscale apartment living room with a large section of wall opened up and a visibly and somewhat violently steaming and clearly asbestos covered “steampipe”.  

For clarity of artistic purpose, the steampipe is going to have to be very enlarged  [1] .

While the apartment is crystal clear modern, the stuff behind the wall is antediluvian, early industrial, evil, dirty, and primeval.  The extreme contrast between the modernity of the living space and the ancient mechanicals hidden and disguised behind the wall is central to the tale.

There is to be a foreboding sense of double trouble cauldron bubble to the scene:  and from the perspective of artistic rendering, the “smoking” evil steampipe is anthropomorphized as a character who will reappear many times over the course of the opera.

There are five characters in the room, conversing:

Joseph Pell Lombardi  [2]

Lombardi is the oily entrepreneurial “architect” who conceived and organized the cooperative - 55 Liberty Street.


Lombardi is sullen and uncommunicative as he correctly understands that the discussion concerns professional error and personal liability on his part.

Abraham Joselow  [3]

Abraham Joselow [AJ] is a highly professional engineer - an Orthodox Jew. He explains (politely) that architect Lombardi’s design of the buildings 6-inch steam-risers is fundamentally faulty. The 32- story steam-riser is attached at nodes - as are frets on a violin.  The lengths of 6-inch steam pipe riser between nodes is subject to violent movement up and down due to contraction and expansion.  

Professional engineer Joselow is explaining that the tendency of steam pipes to fail, fracture and explode in the middle of lengths between the nodes can be resolved with a Flexonics 100 Stainless Steel adapter hose: which costs $29 and takes minutes to install.  

Uness the steam has already been shut off for an emergency repair during the heating season - time to repair is during the summer when an orderly wall opening can be performed containing the asbestos at the same time.

Robert J Phillips  [4]

Robert J Phillips [RJP] is the hard-scrabble alcoholic NY upstate Scotch Irish white-trash building superintendent employed by the cooperative corporation but under the day-to-day supervision of the building’s contract profession manager - Douglas Elliman [5] .

Louisa Morehead Kennedy [RIP]   [obit NYT]

Louisa Morehead Kennedy [LMK] is the patrician member of the 55 Liberty Owners Corporation Board of Directors.  She is a descendant of a signer [Livingston], and the wife of Morehead Kennedy who was the chargé-d'affaires and senior hostage during the Tehran embassy hostage crisis.  She is also the real estate salesman (working for Elizabeth Stribling) who sold the protagonists (the Koenig family] the shares in the cooperative apartment.  LMK is also a syndicate name [member] at the same insurance syndicate that supplied the Koenig family their indemnity for their duty (regardless of cause)  to repair damage from exploding steam pipes.  She, however, insures her duty to repair her apartment through Chubb.

Paul R Gottsegen  [6]

Paul R Gottsegen [PRG] is 55 Liberty Owners Corp’s employee charged with day-to-day operation of the cooperative apartment corporation - and is RJP’s immediate supervisor.  PRG listens attentively to AJ, and nods in agreement.

As the meeting ends, PRG and RJP confer briefly in the common hallway.  PRG tells RJP to install the Flexonics 100 SS fitting before be closes up the wall.

RJP, the superintendent, return to the apartment [# 17C] closes up and partially repairs the wall.  While he has the Flexonics 100 SS fitting in his hand - he conspicuously fails to install it.   The new shareholders will be arriving the next day to do a walkthrough just before they close on the purchase.  It is important that the new shareholders not see the steam pipes and the asbestos.

But RJP mistakenly leaves behind the Flexonics 100 SS fitting - on the floor.

Act I Scene 2

The next day Robert J Koenig and his wife Alice Moore Hall arrive to walk through # 17C just prior to a closing which is uptown at the Douglas Elliman offices.

They are confronted with a huge hole in the Southwest corner of the living room which has been inartfully closed with sections  of sheetrock but otherwise unfinished.

Robert Koenig goes downstairs and gets ahold of the superintendent, RJP, whom he has never met.  RJP comes up and explains with typical NYC superintendent evasiveness, that there was a routine ordinary repair of a plumbing pipe and that there was nothing to worry about.  RJP promised an expeditious repair of the wall.  During the entire conversation.

Act II Scene 1


Joseph Pell Lombardi


Exhibit - Barrie Kosky in The Economist

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[1] It seems to me (the librettist) that the footnote to the program should note that the actual steam pipe assembly is much smaller.  Just as violent - but smaller.

[2] Joseph Pell Lombardi
Joseph Pell Lombardi & Associates
412 Broadway 4th floor
New York NY 10013

[3] Abraham Joselow PE PC
45 West 34th Street Suite 110
New York NY 10001
fax:  +1.212.736.0241

Peter Joselow

[4] Robert J Phillips [RIP]
115 Kinnebrook Mobile Home Park
Monticello NY 12701

[5] Cognoscenti in the audience may already know that Douglas Elliman went bankrupt due to a “pay-to-play” fraud in which senior managers at Douglas-Elliman (including a Jack Oelberger and Kessler who were on the 55 Liberty account) were accepting bribes from building tradesmen to work in the building.