The opera is a re-working of the tale of Lot, found in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament. The tale of Lot and his family, while relatively brief in its original telling, reverberates in much of Western culture. It is used especially as a tale of caution, as Lot's wife defies the warning that she not look back on the city and life she is fleeing. No motivation is suggested as to why the wife looks back, nor is a reason given for Lot's daughter's subsequent seduction of their drunken father. One can hear the profound inspiration of the Italian operatic tradition born of early cultural experience, although the music is much influenced by American education. The vocal lines of the five main characters and the chorus are quite demanding. The ranges explore the highest sonority in the sopranos, as well as the lowest in the basses. Strong and clashing dissonances are used to emphasize dramatic moments such as the transformation of the wife into a pillar of salt. The full orchestra can be considered another character of the opera, playing a central role in the development of the story.