The prologue will be sung in a modern adaptation by Kelley Rourke, while the opera within the opera will be performed in the original German.
Based on the Theodore Dreiser novel inspired by a true story, Tobias Picker’s “An American Tragedy” tells the story of a small-town boy’s pursuit of the American dream. Blinded by ambition, the promising young man, Clyde Griffiths, makes a series of unfortunate choices that culminate in a death in the Adirondacks.
“Theodore Dreiser’s novel ‘An American Tragedy,’” Picker wrote, “is a powerful portrayal of the dark side of the American dream. It was my father’s favorite book. I remember him being profoundly moved by the conflict between ambition and morality depicted in the novel, a conflict that remains one of the central challenges at the core of the American experience. When the opportunity arose to write an opera for the Metropolitan Opera I immediately knew that Drieser’s book had to be my subject. I am thrilled that The Glimmerglass Festival has brought together such a wonderful production team and I look forward to working with them to bring a newly revised version of ‘An American Tragedy’ to the stage.”
“An American Tragedy,” Picker’s fourth opera, premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005 to great acclaim. The Glimmerglass production celebrates the composer’s 60th birthday and marks the premiere of the newly revised version by the composer and librettist.
Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times wrote, “The opera is accomplished, dramatically effective and thoroughly professional. Many composers ... could learn from Mr. Picker’s know-how about the theater.”
The new Glimmerglass production will be conducted by George Manahan, a leading advocate of Picker’s music, who conducted the world premiere of Picker’s first opera “Emmeline” at Santa Fe Opera in 1996, as well as “Emmeline’s” New York premiere at New York City Opera in 1998. Manahan will conduct the world premiere of Picker’s fifth opera, “Dolores Claiborne,” at San Francisco Opera in Sept.2013. Manahan served as music director for New York City Opera for more than a decade, and currently serves as music director of the American Composers Orchestra and Portland Opera. A versatile conductor, Manahan has conducted a wide range of operas, including Edward Thomas’ “Desire Under the Elms,” which received a Grammy Award nomination.