STAGE: A rural village in feudal Japan. A small, traditional Japanese house is nearby. Some cherry trees can be seen in the distance.
A samurai warrior enters the stage, inspecting his lands and his village. He starts singing the first aria of the opera, “A Sacred Land, A Sacred Call”, extolling the virtues of the samurai and the honor that lies with his profession. “To die for the emperor”, he sings, “a duty; an honor – oh that I would be found worthy of doing so”. Two women nearby sit kneeling with their heads bowed in deep respect for this great warrior. After he is gone, they discuss the theme of the aria between them, and how they are, like him, honor-bound in their call to serve. “This is the Meaning of Life”, they sing together in wonderful, tear-jerking duet.
But events are afoot. The samurai’s son suddenly enters the stage, looking for his father after many years away in Kyoto. They meet; father is delighted to see him and wonders how he has been doing. Alas, it is soon revealed, that the son has not followed in his father’s footsteps; he has become a traveling salesman for Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses. The samurai, enraged, commands him to stop immediately and storms out. The end of Act One ends with the son, singing to a sad tune on the clarinet, “How I Love Japan; But I Love Hershey’s Kisses Too”.
The Japanese villagers are now talking among themselves and rumor quickly spreads that the samurai’s son is a salesman for Hershey’s. Some of the villagers argue that chocolate, in every form, is a good thing and Japan must embrace the influences of the new world; others argue against; when suddenly the samurai himself appears. Finding that his authority is weakening, he quickly summons his son and asks him “very well, have you changed your mind?” The son refuses to leave his new profession, and the samurai, dishonored and enraged, throws him into a bamboo prison cell. “There you will stay”, he bellows, “until you respect your honor!”
The drama develops when a team of Hershey Co. lawyers emerge on the scene, singing a transformation of the main theme, “What Ho, What Ho? What Transpires Here?” The samurai threatens to kill the lawyers on the spot, but they quickly produce a document signed by the Emperor himself, which no samurai can question, that Hershey’s Chocolates are legitimate all over Japan by royal decree. The second act ends with the samurai father falling on his knees in shame and dishonor, crying. The villagers look on terrified.
The samurai, unable to bear the shame of his son as a traveling Hershey’s salesman, has reached a decision: He will commit suicide. The villagers are mortified, and the team of Hershey’s lawyers are beaten by them until they repel them by threatening to sue them for libel. The samuari ends this quarrel by stepping onto the stage with his swords; a gray, somber figure with ashen face, prepared to do his duty. His son sings his final aria to him from the bamboo prison, “Will You Not See: a New Dawn for Old Japan”, but the father refuses to listen.
But by mistake, when the samurai reaches for his last sake glass, he accidentally grabs a Hershey’s Chocolate Kiss instead and puts it in his mouth! Apalled at first, his countenance soon changes as he realizes he has made a dreadful mistake, and everyone soon starts laughing. He lets out his son, forgiving him with tears in his face, and the opera ends with the grand finale, the duet between father and son, singing “Here is Tradition Too”, indicating that there are traditions in Hershey’s Company as well, as it is in feudal Japan, and that both can coexist together through honor and mutual respect. The villagers and lawyers combine in a final, grand chorus. The sun sets over the cherry trees which are now blossoming in full, and the curtain falls. The End.