The Cave, Reich's first lyrical work, belongs to a compositional period that the composer himself dubbed "documentary". Giving the word to Abraham and his kins, Reich reflects on the Israelo-Palestinian conflict, symbolized by the tension between Sarah and Agar and between Isaac and Ismael. Each act refers to a different culture, a different geographic area and a different time, on the basis of sacred texts proper to each of the three religions:
-- Act I, West Jerusalem/Hebron, 1989, the Old Testament and the Midrash
-- Act II, East Jerusalem/Hebron, 1989-1991, Koran and Tabari.
-- Act III, New York/Austin, 1992, the Old Testament according to the Christian tradition.
The paper evidences several technical devices (repetition, rhythmic variation, choice of harmonies, etc.) linked to the places and the topics.