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The Crucible (Libretto)

By Robert Ward

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Solo voices, full orchestra
Composed by Robert Ward. Full Length Opera. 20th Century. Libretto. Published by Galaxy Music Corporation (EC.7.0147).

Item Number: EC.7.0147

Text: Arthur Miller.

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 ParrisMezzo Soprano
Reverend Samuel ParrisTenor
Abigail WilliamsSoprano
Ann PutnamSoprano
Thomas PutnamBaritone
Rebecca NurseContralto
Francis NurseBass
Giles CoreyTenor
John ProctorBaritone
Reverend John HaleBass
Elizabeth ProctorMezzo Soprano
Mary WarrenSoprano
Ezekiel CheeverTenor
Judge DanforthTenor
Sarah GoodSoprano
Chorus of Girls 1 mezzo soprano, 1 coloratura, 2 contraltos, 2 sopranos
Chorus ad lib.

Full Orchestra: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

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


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.

Click here to read a review of The Crucible at 2016 Glimmerglass Festival by DC Theatre!


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