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
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.
Winner, Pulitzer Prize - Music, 1962
Winner, New York Critics Circle Citation, 1962
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.
-George Stowe, THE HARTFORD TIMES