The Letter
Composer: Paul Moravec
Librettist: Terry Teachout
Other Artistic Personnel: Patrick Summers (Conductor)
Jonathan Kent (Director)
Hildegard Bechtler (Scenic Designer)
Tom Ford (Costume Designer)
Original Cast: Patricia Racette (Leslie Crosbie)
Mika Shigematsu (Chinese Woman)
Roger Honeywell (Geoff Hammond)
Rodell Rosel (Ong Chi Seng)
Keith Jameson (John Withers)
James Maddalena (Howard Joyce)
Anthony Michaels-Moore (Robert Crosbie)
Premiere Date: July 25, 2009
Producing Company: Santa Fe Opera
Description: A hard-boiled dame cooks up her own little Singapore fling. Her double-crossing lover gets a lethal dose of lead as a lovely parting gift. Her sap of a husband helps her get away with murder. Almost… Opera’s classic ingredients—lust, adultery, and revenge—are dished up noir style in this world premiere production.
Character List (Major): Leslie Crosbie, an Englishwoman living in Malaysia(s)
Robert Crosbie, Leslie's husban, the manager of a rubber plantation(bar)
Geoff Hammond, their neighbor(t)
Howard Joyce, a Singapore lawyer(b-bar) Ong Chi Seng, Joyce's confidential clerk(t)
Chinese Woman(mz)
John Withers, a colonial official(t)
Character List (Minor): Head Man(t)
First Clubman(t)
Second Clubman(bar)
A Judge(b)
A Guard(t)
Reviews: In Santa Fe, Concepts Without Connections - The Washington Post 7/27/2009
Maugham’s ‘Letter’ of Duplicity, Staged as an Opera - The New York Times 8/4/2009
Comments: "The Letter makes use of the storytelling techniques of film noir--that's why it plays for ninety minutes with no intermission--but at bottom it's a modern version of a verismo opera, a melodrama about love, sex, vengeance, and death. Like most such operas, it's devoid of Big Ideas: the passionate emotions of the characters are its subject matter. It contains two murders, both of them bloody. It also contains high Cs and tunes that you can hum. It is, in short, what Paul Moravec my collaborator, likes to call "a rattling good show," just like the classic play to which Howard Dietz paid witty tribute iin "That's Entertainment": Some great Shakespeare scene/Where a ghost and a prince meet/And everyone ends in mincemeat. None of this means that The Letter isn't serious--love and death are the most serious things in the world--but Paul and I wanted our first opera to be a work with the potential to appeal to a popular audience. Opera, after all, used to be a truly popular art form. Verdi and Puccini weren't writing for the amusement of connoisseurs and intellectuals. Neither are we."
-Terry Teachout & Paul Moravec
Length: 01:30
Total Acts: 1
Orchestration: picc, 2 fl, 2 ob, eh, 2 cl, bcl, tsax, bsn - 4 hrn, 3 tpt, 3 tbn - timp - 2 perc, hp - str
Contact: Suzanne Ford
Address: Subito Music Publishing
Verona, NJ
E-mail Address:
Phone: 973-857-3440
Composer Web Site:
Publisher Web Site:
Schedule of Performances Listings
The Letter (Philador)
Saturday, July 25, 2009 - Santa Fe Opera
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