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Music Text

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)

World Premiere
5/18/1939
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
cd_cover

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

Click here to purchase this CD from Amazon




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