The Scarlet Letter
2008; Full length opera in 2 Acts, to libretto by poet David Mason
Opera Colorado will present the professional world premiere of the opera The Scarlet Letter by composer Lori Laitman and librettist David Mason in May of 2016. For updated information, please visit www.operacolorado.org.
Elizabeth Futral will portray Hester Prynne, and Beth Greenberg will direct. Rounding out the creative team is set designer Erhard Rom, lighting designer Robert Wierzel, and costume designer Terese Wadden.
The opera calls for 3 leading roles:
- Hester Prynne, a seamstress: soprano
- Arthur Dimmesdale, a young minister: tenor
- Roger Chillingworth, a doctor: baritone
3 minor roles:
- Mistress Hibbons, a witch: mezzo-soprano
- John Wilson, an elder minister: tenor
- Governor Bellingham: baritone
and Pearl, Hester’s young daughter: non-speaking actor.
Running time is 2 hours, in 2 acts. The opera is scored for chamber orchestra (although I could adapt it for full orchestra if desired).
There are several stand-alone arias, published in the summer of 2010:
“Beyond All Price” — Hester’s Lullaby (soprano)
“This Canopy of Trees” — another aria for Hester (soprano)
“Now Truly Know Me” — Chillingworth’s lament (baritone)
“Our Nights” — (tenor)
“Ye People of New England” — (tenor)
“Come To The Devil’s Fire” – the Witch’s aria (mezzo-soprano)
“Our Eden Here is Love” — (soprano and tenor duet)
Act I, Scene 2 from the opera will also be published separately, as a duet for baritone and soprano.
In old Boston a young woman, Hester Prynne, has been charged with adultery and forced to wear the scarlet letter 'A' embroidered on her breast. Just as she mounts the scaffold to receive her sentence, her husband, long presumed dead and newly escaped from captivity among the Indians, arrives and recognizes her. This man, renamed as Roger Chillingworth, begins a quest to discover the father of Hester's child. As the community wrestles with whether or not to allow Hester to continue raising her daughter, Chillingworth moves in with the pale young minister, Arthur Dimmesdale, who hides the fact that he is the father of Hester's child. In a dark night of the soul, Arthur is taunted by a local witch, and it becomes clear that he is overcome with guilt and inner conflict about his past with Hester. The two lovers meet in the forest, plotting their escape, sure they can escape the laws and mores of men in this new world. But Dimmesdale cannot forget his guilt, and during an election day ceremony he confesses his sin to the crowd, exposing a branded letter 'A' over his own heart. Dimmesdale dies at the moment of his confession, and the opera moves out into a broader, lyrical sense of time in which its stories are at least partly resolved.
For more information and to hear demo tracks, please visit scarletletteropera.com