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The Crucible

An Opera in 4 Acts

Voice soloists and opera chorus (2 2 2 2 - 4 2 2 0 - T - P - Hrp - Str or reduced orchestration: 2(Pic) 1(EH) 2 1 - 2 2 1 0 - P - Hrp - Str)
An Opera in 4 Acts. 20th Century and Opera. Vocal score. With translations and plot synopsis. 288 pages. Published by Highgate Press (EC.7.0028).

Item Number: EC.7.0028

With translations and plot synopsis. 20th Century and Opera. 9x12 inches.

Available Editions:
Piano/Vocal Score, 7.0028
Libretto, 7.0147
Full score and parts available for rental from the publisher.

Written by Bernard Stambler, based on the play by Arthur Miller, German Translation by Thomas Martin

The story is Arthur Miller's impassioned parable of witchcraft and intrigue in colonial Salem; a story of good and evil, in which bigoted men and women used the cry of 'witch' to destroy those they hated or envied. The town of Salem has been seized by a wave of hysteria. The slave, Tituba, is accused by the wily and pretty Abigail, who uses the situation to destroy the community. When the witch trial begins under the administration of the terrifying zealot, Judge Danforth, Abigail accuses Elizabeth, the wife of John Proctor, of witchcraft. Abigail hopes thereby to get Elizabeth out of the way and regain John's affection. John remains loyal to his wife, however, even admitting in court to his adultery with Abigail in order to expose her fraud. He is not believed, however, and is himself arrested and, along with Tituba and other innocents, condemned to the gallows. In a blaze of courage at the opera's end, John refuses to sign the false confession that would free him. Duration: ~2 hours

Betty Parris - Mezzo Soprano
Reverend Samuel Parris - Tenor
Tituba - Contralto
Abigail Williams - Soprano
Ann Putnam - Soprano
Thomas Putnam - Baritone
Rebecca Nurse - Contralto
Francis Nurse - Bass
Giles Corey - Tenor
John Proctor - Baritone
Reverend John Hale - Bass
Elizabeth Proctor - Mezzo Soprano
Mary Warren - Soprano
Ezekiel Cheever - Tenor
Judge Danforth - Tenor
Sarah Good - Soprano
Chorus of Girls - 1 mezzo soprano, 1 coloratura, 2 contraltos, 2 sopranos
Chorus ad lib.

October 26, 1961, New York City Opera

Winner, Pulitzer Prize - Music, 1962
Winner, New York Critics Circle Citation, 1962

Notable Performances:
The New York City Opera
San Francisco Opera
Belgrade National Opera
Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore
Chamber Opera Chicago
Boston Opera Collaborative
Cincinnati Conservatory of Music
Juilliard School
Eastman School
New England Conservatory
University of Michigan
Manhattan School of Music
Aspen Music Festival

Available recording:
New York City Opera, Emerson Buckley, conductor
Albany Records, # TROY025-26


At last week's performance... I was able to get a clearer idea of this opera, which is, of course, a study of the human conscience based on Arthur Miller's play about the Salem witch trails. Again, the beauty, nobility, skill, power, and utter sincerity of Mr. Ward's music bowled me over. If a finer opera has been written since the days of Strauss and Puccini, I have not heard it. ... The Crucible is comparable to the great masterworks of the classical repertory, and I like to think of it also as an example of the true music of the future. It is, in short, music of the most inspired sort, written by a master of his craft.
-Winthrop Sargeant, THE NEW YORKER

Mr. Ward's hit is "The Crucible," his brilliant operatic adaptation of Arthur Miller's play about the Salem witch trials as a metaphor for the McCarthy hearings. The Crucible has a superb libretto, lightly adapted from the Miller by Bernard Stambler. And it has a score that balances folkish Americana with the driving devil-possession effects also used by Prokofiev in "The Flaming Angel" and Krzysztof Penderecki in "The Devils of Loudon" and the elegiac nobility evoked by Poulenc in "The Dialogues of the Carmelites."
-John Rockwell, THE NEW YORK TIMES

For my money it is the finest American opera of the century, with a libretto good enough to inspire a Verdi or Mussorgsky.

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  • Ratings + Reviews

  • 5

    Twin Cities, MN
    Difficulty Level:
  • July 04, 2011 A Riveting work of Passion

    The defects in the score are no greater or less than those of any hand-written score in the days of pre-computer laser printing. The WORK, however, is an excellent and riveting piece of theater, that works, from college workshop, to mainstage opera company production, IF the truth of...

    the times, (17th century) and not the pandering of Miller's anti-McCarthyism (which was subsequently proven true on every count) is the directorial bent. But you can't see this, or hear it without the score. One of Ward's great works.

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    20 of 42 people found this review helpful.
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  • 1

    Boston, MA
    Difficulty Level:
  • October 08, 2009 Shame on Schirmer

    This score is in such poor condition that I would have thought that I was a bootleg copy. To top that, it is the only one available without buying an original somewhere online. The German translation confuses one of the best American operas of the 20th century. The font used...

    for the English is small and crappy--nearly half the size of the italicized German. The opera deserves a far better printing and those of us who are forced to buy it from Schirmer are disgusted as with so many of their other poorly crafted and incorrect printings of the classics. Please get your act together, Schirmer. Shame on you yet again!!

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    24 of 44 people found this review helpful.
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  • 1

    New York City
    Difficulty Level:
  • August 01, 2008 Ward's Cruicble

    The piece is really VERY well written, very dramatic, and very vocal. The printed score, however, is very nearly ILLEGIBLE!!! A bad xerox gives better quality. Ward's writing style uses key signatures very sparingly favoring instead MANY accidentals. I have had to guess at MANY of the pitches as...

    there is almost no discernable difference between natural and sharp signs in this copy. Though written below, the GERMAN translation is printed in a larger script than the original ENGLISH, and requires MANY alternative rhythms, confusing the score even more. I was outraged to pay more than $50 for a score which I had to spend hours and hours rewriting so that I might read it and use it for rehearsals.

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    23 of 39 people found this review helpful.
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