An American Tragedy (opera)
An American Tragedy is an opera in two acts composed by Tobias Picker to a libretto by Gene Scheer. This was Picker's fourth opera, written four years after the debut of Thérèse Raquin (also composed with Scheer). Based on the Theodore Dreiser novel, An American Tragedy, the opera was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera and premiered in New York City on December 2, 2005.
|Role||Voice||Premier Cast, 2004 (Conductor: James Conlon)|
|Roberta Alden||Soprano||Patricia Racette|
|Sondra Finchley||Mezzo-Soprano||Susan Graham|
|Clyde Griffiths||Baritone||Nathan Gunn|
|Elvira Griffiths||Mezzo-Soprano||Dolora Zajick|
|Elizabeth Griffiths||Mezzo-Soprano||Jennifer Larmore|
|Bella Griffiths||Soprano||Jennifer Aylmer|
|Samuel Griffiths||Tenor||Kim Begley|
|Gilbert Griffiths||Tenor||William Burden|
|Orville Mason||Baritone||Richard Bernstein|
|Grace Marr||Soprano||Clare Gormley|
|Young Clyde||Boy Soprano||Graham Phillips|
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.
Note from the composer
Based on a true story, Theodore Dreiser's novel An American Tragedy is one 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.
This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (June 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- Tommasini, Anthony. "Dreiser's Chilling Tale of Ambition and Its Price".
- Ross, Alex. "Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy".
- Met Opera Archives
- Picker, Tobias. "Synopsis".
- Picker, Tobias. "Composer Note".