For years, play audiences and classrooms alike have enjoyed Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”
The same story is told in an entirely different way in Robert Ward’s opera adaptation, and the School of Music will introduce Rocky Top to this version through the UT Opera Theatre production.
Although not as known as the play, director of the UT production James Macauley mentioned that many actually prefer the opera version of “The Crucible.”
“Robert Ward’s music is absolutely stunning,” Macauley said. “The music gets to the very heart of the drama … It is extremely evocative and compelling.”
Main actress Allison Deadly, who portrays character Elizabeth Proctor, added that the differences add to the story, making this performance stand out.
“While the story of ‘The Crucible’ is well known, I think audiences will be surprised by the differences between the opera and the play,” Deadly said. “Robert Ward’s lush score provides a perfect backdrop for this dramatic plot line. The addition of music to this story heightens the emotions and drama in a drastic way.”
Adapting the play to an opera, rather than a musical, also adds a different acoustic aspect, as the singers don’t wear microphones, creating a different auditory experience.
“Opera is, in my opinion, the rawest use of the voice in theater. No microphones, no effects, just melody, text and emotion,” Deadly said. “Opera utilizes the human voice to its fullest potential in terms of beauty and volume. People often talk about how music is the universal language. It many times allows you to communicate things which words cannot.”
Macauley agreed, also noting the artistic value of opera. A traditional form of music as art, performing “The Crucible” as an opera adds another layer to the piece.
“It appeals to the heart as well as the mind,” Macauley said. “Opera is entertaining art, as opposed to artistic entertainment.”
This emotional experience, heightened by the musical power of opera, still holds relevance, Macauley said, although “The Crucible” tells a fictionalized version of the historical Salem Witch Trials in 1692.
“The hysteria of the piece and the time period it depicts is not unlike what we are experiencing today and is therefore extremely relevant to modern audiences,” Mccauley said. “Audiences can expect an extremely visceral experience that gets to the very heart of human psychology.”
“The Crucible” will have three performances on April 21-23 at the Bijou Theatre downtown. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit knoxbijou.com.