The Scarlet Libretto

The Scarlet Libretto

by David Mason, Nathaniel Hawthorne
     
 

Words for Lori Laitman’s opera, The Scarlet Letter
Based on the story by Nathaniel Hawthorne
 
Award-winning poet and librettist David Mason, author of Ludlow and other books, has given new life in verse to Hawthorne’s classic novel. By distilling the book’s narrative line and adding a charged lyricism of his own, Mason

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Overview

Words for Lori Laitman’s opera, The Scarlet Letter
Based on the story by Nathaniel Hawthorne
 
Award-winning poet and librettist David Mason, author of Ludlow and other books, has given new life in verse to Hawthorne’s classic novel. By distilling the book’s narrative line and adding a charged lyricism of his own, Mason has created another magnificent work in his ongoing poetic portrait of America.
 
In old Boston, a young woman, Hester Prynne, has been charged with adultery and forced to wear the scarlet letter “A” embroidered on her breast. Just as she mounts the scaffold to receive her sentence, her husband, long presumed dead and newly escaped from captivity among the Indians, arrives and recognizes her. This man, renamed Roger Chillingworth, begins a quest to discover the father of Hester’s child. As the community wrestles with whether or not to allow Hester to continue raising her daughter, Chillingworth moves in with the pale young minister, Arthur Dimmesdale, who hides the fact that he is the sought-after father. In a dark night of the soul, Arthur is taunted by a local witch, and it becomes clear that he is overcome with guilt and inner conflict about his past with Hester. The two lovers meet in the forest, plotting their escape, sure they can flee the laws and mores of men in this new world. But Dimmesdale cannot forget his guilt, and during an election day ceremony he confesses his sin to the crowd, exposing a branded letter “A” over his own heart.
 
A tale of conflict between an astonishing woman and her thwarted and thwarting community, of a minister’s guilt and a husband’s vengeance, Mason’s Scarlet Libretto casts new light on Hawthorne’s classic, on the tension between freedom and responsibility, and on the secrets in the human soul.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Auden discovered in opera an ideal forum for the modern poet’s public and heroic voice. David Mason is a poetic dramatist of the first order, and his Scarlet Letter not only renders Hawthorne’s masterpiece as memorable (and eminently singable!) verse. It fashions for the stage—and the page—one of America’s original myths with a brilliance that revivifies the past while remaining true to the present. That he has partnered with Lori Laitman, one of our finest contemporary composers, signals a classic in the making. But read it before you see it! Mason’s libretto is a dramatic poem with a flawless music all its own.”
—David Yezzi

“Adapting a classic novel into an opera libretto is no mean feat, but poet David Mason has accomplished it with flair. In Mason’s Scarlet Libretto, Hawthorne’s classic novel emerges newly clothed in elegant, lyrical verse; its vivid characters and absorbing dramatic situations seem newly minted. A wordsmith of formidable dramatic gifts, Mason’s writing is a perfect foil for opera, and his collaboration with composer Lori Laitman is a perfect match. The chance to read Mason’s lyric libretto apart from Laitman’s brilliant score makes one appreciate how seamlessly words and music mesh in this opera. The Scarlet Libretto is a magical work by two like-minded artists who have created aural alchemy and produced an American opera that should become a classic repertory piece.”
—Carol Kimball

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781597091701
Publisher:
Red Hen Press
Publication date:
03/01/2012
Edition description:
1st Edition
Pages:
80
Sales rank:
1,420,548
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)

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