An American Tragedy
opera in two acts
libretto by Gene Scheer
based on the book by Theodore Dreiser
Commissioned work: Commissioned by The Metropolitan Opera
Premiere: December 2, 2005 New York, NY, The Metropolitan Opera (USA) · with Patricia Racette as Roberta Alden; Susan Graham as Sondra Finchley; Nathan Gunn as Clyde Griffiths · Conductor: James Conlon · Staging: Francesca Zambello · Costumes: Dunya Ramicova · Stage design: Adrianne Lobel · Choreography: Doug Varone (scenic performance)
Orchestra instrumentation: 2(2.pic).2(2.ca).2(2.bcl).2-22.214.171.124-timp.perc(glsp, xyl, vib, tub bells, crash cym, h.h, high gong, low gong, high tam-t, b.d, ratchet, slapstick)-hp.pno(street org, church org)-str
Cast of characters: Clyde Griffiths · baritone - Elvira Griffiths · mezzo-soprano - Young Clyde · boy soprano - Clyde's Sisters · 5 Girls - Samuel Griffiths · tenor - Elizabeth Griffiths · mezzo-soprano - Bella Griffiths · soprano - Gilbert Griffiths · tenor - Sondra Finchley · mezzo-soprano - Roberta Alden · soprano - Orville Mason · bass-baritone - Hortense · soprano - Reverend McMillan · tenor - Grace · soprano (can be supernumerary) - SATB chorus
Publisher: Schott Helicon Music Corporation
Duration: 145' 0''
Year of composition: 2005
Material on hire
Delivery rights: worldwide
A progressive drama of temptation, responsibility, and faith. Clyde Griffiths, Midwestern missionary’s son, is a young man working as a flirtatious bellhop in Chicago. He relocates to New York upon being offered a position in his Uncle Samuel’s shirt factory. Wasting no time he pursues one of the workers there, Roberta Alden, after being warned not to by fellow workers. Clyde quickly moves on to a new love interest in Sondra Finchley. Before long, Clyde is juggling Roberta and Sondra, only to soon discover that Roberta is pregnant. It becomes clear that Sondra is Clyde’s true love and Roberta is nothing more than a burden. Clyde schemes to rid himself of the burden of an unwanted lover with a child on the way.
'Based on a true story, Theodore Dreiser's novel An American Tragedy is one of American literature's great, universal subjects. The central character Clyde Griffiths is Everyman, and his dilemma is at the heart of the American experience, then as well as now. The people upon whom Dreiser's characters were based also echo throughout the pages of the entire opera. They are the haunting spirits that made the story and the writing of the music "real" for me. The heartbreaking handwritten letters of Grace Brown, the tragic real life factory worker Dreiser brings us so painfully close to, inspired me to give them song as they are projected onto the stage in all their endless optimism and sorrow.’ (Tobias Picker)
An American Tragedy is Tobias Picker's fourth opera. His first opera Emmeline was a runaway hit at both the Santa Fe Opera and New York City Opera and was subsequently broadcast on national television. Upcoming are new productions of his Therese Raquin by Opera Theatre Europe at the Linbury Studio of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in March 2006 and Fantastic Mr. Fox at Opera East (UK), scheduled for the 2006-07 season.
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Tobias Picker: Emmeline - An Opera in two Acts
ED 30001-1 = libretto
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