Robert Ward sees his work 'The Crucible' performed at Sarasota Opera
March 9, 2011
Patricia G. Horwell, Communications Officer
The 2011 Winter Opera Festival was a season of several firsts for Sarasota Opera. The company presented the first work in its American Classics Series, Robert Ward’s The Crucible, based on Arthur Miller’s play of the same name. And for the first time, a live, contemporary composer was able to see his opera performed in the Sarasota Opera House. Through a partnership with the Sarasota Institute of Lifelong Learning, Maestro Ward was brought to Sarasota to speak to the Opera’s audiences, meet the company, and finally to speak at an event sponsored by SILL.
The 93-year-old composer was the special guest at the March 5 event, Conversation with the Composer, prior to The Crucible’s opening night performance, which was also a celebration of the opera’s fiftieth anniversary.
“Why The Crucible?” he was asked. When Ward first saw Miller’s play he says he was deeply moved. “This story turned out to be so powerful. My only thought was ‘How do I get in touch with Arthur Miller as soon as possible?’ ”
Ward said he and Miller hit it off immediately. “He was wonderful [to work with], perhaps because when he first thought of doing a dramatic treatment of this, he thought it might make a better opera than a play.”
He joked about inviting “Mr. and Mrs. Miller” to a performance of one of his works. Mrs. Miller, in fact, was Marilyn Monroe. Ward described this opera, now celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, as having staying power. “It keeps getting produced — all over the world.”
After the Sarasota opening night performance, Ward took his bows onstage while audience members took to their feet and greeted him with screams of “Bravo!” and thunderous applause. He attended the company party — and stayed all the way through — shaking hands, chatting, and autographing scores.
“This was the best production of my opera that I have ever seen,” he told company members. “I am so happy you did it!”
The Crucible runs through March 19. For tickets, call the Box Office at (941) 328-1300, stop by in person, or visit the website at www.sarasotaopera.org.