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Purchase Opera Releases The Crucible

It’s the first recording in more than 50 years of this work.

Purchase Opera and Albany Records have partnered to release the first new recording in more than fifty years of The Crucible, an opera by composer Robert Ward and librettist Bernard Stambler based on Arthur Miller’s play about the Salem witch trials.

The production, directed by Professor Jacque Trussel, was presented in March 2016 at the Performing Arts Center and was later recorded in the Conservatory of Music’s Recital Hall.  

The recording features students and alumni of the Conservatory of Music’s highly selective Voice and Opera Studies program—the winner of 13 top awards from the National Opera Association for its acclaimed productions, including one for this production.  

Also performing on the recording is the Purchase Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Associate Professor of Music Hugh Murphy. Maestro Murphy is a recent recipient of the American Prize Competition’s Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music for his conducting of The Crucible.

This is the College’s third release with Albany Records, having recorded Lee Hoiby’s The Tempest and Raphael Lucas’s Confession, a one-act prequel to Puccini’s Suor Angelica.

“Albany Records is proud to partner with Purchase Opera to make recordings by major American composers available. The Crucible stands as a landmark of American music and Purchase Opera, Maestro Murphy, and the cast and orchestra are to be commended for their superlative performance,” says Susan Bush, President of Albany Records.

“While popular for a few years, now The Crucible is a rarely-heard gem,” says Trussel, director of the Purchase Opera and head of the Conservatory of Music’s Voice and Opera Studies.

The Crucible is also a real ensemble piece, which makes it ideal for a conservatory program as it gives many performers the chance to fully investigate and inhabit a role. We are grateful to Albany Records for their commitment to preserving and promoting American classical music, and look forward to continuing our partnership with them.” 

Originally commissioned by the New York City Opera, The Crucible premiered on October 26, 1961, just eight years after Miller’s play was first performed. The opera won a Pulitzer Prize among other accolades.

The last recording of the opera, also released by Albany Records, was from the early 1960s, and featured the original New York City Opera cast, minus bass-baritone Norman Treigle.

The performances of The Crucible were made possible with support from the Emily & Eugene Grant Opera Performance and Production Fund; The L. Werlinich Opera Production Endowment; and the Purchase College Foundation.