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Devil and Daniel Webster

Photo: Courtesy University of Northern Colorado

Performed by University of Northern Colorado, 1985. Musical Director: Carl Gerbrandt

Moore, Douglas Stuart

The Devil and Daniel Webster (1939)

Duration: 65 minutes

Folk opera in one act


English   Deutsch  

Libretto by Stephen Vincent Benet (E)


Scoring

M,3T,3Bar,2B,3speakers; chorus 2(II=picc).2(II=corA).2(II=bcl).2(II=dbn)-2.2.1.0-timp.perc-harp-strings Reduced scoring: 1.1.1.1-1.1.1.0-perc(1):timp/SD/sandpaper/cym/gong/chimes(offstage)/ tam-t-pft-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)


Territory

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
18/05/1939
New York, New York
John Houseman, director
Conductor: Fritz Reiner
Company: American Lyric Theatre


Roles

JABEZ STONE, a New Hampshire farmer Bass
MARY STONE, Jabez's wife Mezzo-Soprano
DANIEL WEBSTER, Secretary of State Baritone
A FIDDLER speaking role
MR. SCRATCH, a Boston lawyer Tenor
JUSTICE HATHORNE speaking part
CLERK Baritone
VOICE OF MISER STEVENS Tenor
WALTER BUTLER speaking part
BLACKBEARD TEACH Baritone
KING PHILIP, a juror Bass
SIMON GIRTY, a juror Tenor
Other Jurymen non-speaking roles
Men and Women of Cross Corners, New Hampshire chorus

Time and Place

1840s, Cross Corners, New Hampshire


Synopsis

Set in New Hampshire in the 1840s, the community of Cross Corners is celebrating the marriage of Jabez and Mary Stone. Jabez has recently become extremely successful.  In fact, there is some talk of his being nominated to run for governor. The celebration is a huge success, especially since the famous New Englander, Daniel Webster, appears as a guest at the party. There is another guest in attendance - a Boston lawyer named Scratch - who carries a black box under his arm. Jabez is terrified when he sees him. When a lost soul, in the form of a moth, flies out of the box, the crowd realizes that Jabez has sold his soul to the Devil, and they flee in a panic. Webster is asked to help save Jabez, and he immediately demands a trial for his client. Scratch, an excellent lawyer himself, fills the jury with infamous American traitors and renegades, including the hanging judge from the Salem witch trials. This jury of damned souls leaves Webster little hope of winning the case. However, in a blaze of oratory genius, Webster turns the tables on Scratch. Webster wins the case, and the crowd drives the Devil out of New Hampshire.


Moods

Dramatic


Subjects

History, Mythology, Society


Recommended Recording

Joyce Guyer, Brian Steele, Lyric Opera of Kansas, Russell Patterson
Newport Classics NPD 85585

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Devil and Daniel Webster


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