suddenly found itself in the grip of a mass hysteria which
sparked off the largest witch hunt this country would ever see.
were accused and sent to prison to await trial.
women and men were hanged and one man was pressed to death
before the hysteria wound to its close.
is an hour-long dramatic oratorio which tells the tale of the
Salem Witch Trials.
uses historical documents from the 1600s as the basis for much
of the libretto.
written in homage to Susanna Martin, ancestor of the composer,
who was hanged as a witch.
VILLAGE OF FEAR
LAND WHERE EVIL WAKENS WITH DAWN.
TERROR GRIPS YOU, SHADOWS CAN SPEAK!
COMES THE MADMAN, SPURRING IT ON!
FEAR CREEPS UNDER
AND THE SNAKE OF SUSPICION LEAVES A
GOD HAS ABANDONED YOU...
CRIES OF THE HUNTED
HAUNT YOUR DREAMS
WILL NO ONE LISTEN?
WILL NONE SPEAK?
THEN SLEEP THE SLEEP OF THE DAMNED!
SILENCE AS AN ANSWER
BRINGS SILENCE AS REWARD.
AND WHEN YOU GO TO
ALL MOUTHS WILL SHUT,
ALL EYES WILL CLOSE,
AND NONE WILL HEAR YOUR PLEA OF
OH SALEM, OH CHILD...
LOST IN A NIGHTMARE!
I SING YOUR STORY NOW,
SO ALL MAY HEAR.
both literally and metaphorically
- but even in sleep it is haunted by
the witch hysteria that burned its name into a black chapter of
our history books.
It is doomed
to replay the incidents that occurred in 1692, when evil ran
unchecked throughout the village and the pleas of the innocent
and the voices of logic and dissent were silenced or ignored.
is summoned to awake and relive its bitter story so that all may
learn from it.
Movement 1: “Saviour of all
The Puritans live an austere,
There is no
book but the Good Book; children are expected to be quiet and
obedient, and every moment is overshadowed by the constant fear
of living in a land populated by frightening, devil-like
natives, and at the mercy of calamities and deadly illnesses.
Movement 2: “The Prayer of
Reverend Samuel Parris,
unhappily disliked by half his parishioners, appeals to God for
a way to unite his congregation.
Movement 3: “The Sermon of Rev. Parris”
Reverend Parris's sermon inspired the
congregation to suspect that
the devil could also inhabit the body of a God-fearing
Christian, opening wide the door for fear to enter.
Movement 4: “Telling Fortunes”
The winter nights are long and cold,
with very little diversion for children.
slave, is teased into telling fortunes for some young girls, who
are terrified by the result.
Movement 5: “The Children Cry
The fears of the congregation are
manifested when the group of young girls suddenly feels they are
being attacked by unseen forces.
the adults, the girls name their torturers
at first only the destitute, the infirm
and the enslaved.
But as their
accusations meet with no contest, they gain confidence and begin
to accuse others.
Movement 6: “The Words of
Cotton Mather's discourse adds fuel to
the fire by confirming that Satan is causing the witchcraft, for
he believes the Devil is angry that the Puritans have brought
God to the new land.
Movement 7: “One For the
The townspeople begin to see their
neighbors in a new light, suspecting each other of evil doings
based on unusual incidents or coincidence.
Movement 8: “The Trial of Susanna Martin”
(June 30, 1692)
The accused are represented by Susanna Martin, Giles Corey and
Martin's trial is a composite of the trials of many, full of the
absurdities that were accepted as fact.
Movement 9: “Susanna’s
Susanna Martin, ancestor of the
composer, is given the opportunity to plead her case, which was
denied her at her trial.
Movement 10: “The Pressing of Giles Corey”
(September 16, 1692)
Giles Corey refused to enter a plea, which prohibited his case
from going to trial.
attempt to force him to speak, a slab of wood was placed on his
chest and piled with heavy boulders, until he died of
asphyxiation. His last words were
Movement 11: “A Letter from Mary Easty”
(September 20, 1692)
Mary Easty, condemned to hang at dawn, spent her last night
composing a letter to the judges, begging them not for her own
life, but to spare the lives of others who she is certain are as
innocent as she is herself.
Movement 12: “Gallow’s
On Gallows Hill, the wind is the breath
of angels who are angry at the injustice of the trials.
and roars, tearing at cloaks and breaking branches from the
townspeople, locked into the oblivion created and nurtured by
their fear, proceed to hang the innocent victims of their
The Devil has succeeded in
Movement 13: “Song of
A father sings to his infant daughter
after her mother has been hanged.
Stepping back in time, the Epilogue is
adapted from a sermon that was given aboard the Arabella in
1630, as it lay at anchor in what would eventually be called
Winthrop reminded his band of travel-weary Puritans gathered on
deck that the entire world would be watching to see how their
great experiment played out.
shall be as a city
upon a hill" is also a reminder
to us in the present day that good intentions can become warped
who represent us do so with lies and arrogance, it offers our
enemies the opportunity to curse us; when our fears cause us to
choose a path of evil, we will eventually be led to our own
ends with the simple reminder to love one another.
It is a
reminder that the current world needs to hear.