THE CRUCIBLE @ Sarasota Opera
By Robert Ward and Bernard Stambler based on the play by Arthur Miller
Conducted by David Neely, Set Design by Michael Schweikardt, Costume Design by Howard Tsvi Kaplan, Lighting Design by Ken Yunker, Artistic Administrator – Greg Trupiano, Executive Director – Susan Danis, Artistic Director – Victor DeRenzi
(Reviews Below Slideshow) – Production Photos by Rod Millington
From Composer, Robert Ward
The Sarasota “Crucible” was among the finest I’ve ever witnessed and heard. And over the years and attendance at many productions I have learned that no one deserves more credit for that than the Stage Director. Thanks to you, all the nuances of Arthur Miller’s play in the opera were realized by the splendid cast in their performances and by the fine ovation by audience at the final curtain. May many more audiences have the benefit of your fine direction of future performances. With admiration and gratitude, Robert Ward.
Sarasota Herald Tribune
Courage of all kinds marks ‘The Crucible’ at Sarasota Opera – Robert Ward’s compelling opera based on Arthur Miller’s powerful play about the infamous Salem witch trials of the 1690′s honors both political and artistic courage, a quality made abundantly clear in the production which made its debut Saturday evening. This is music drama of great power, presented by a large and exemplary company of fine singers under the… intense stage direction by Michael Unger.
Sarasota Herald Tribune (follow-up article)
Michael Unger, who came to the opera after years of directing plays, gives a sense of reality to his staging… my favorite production of the company’s winter season.
With Robert Ward’s The Crucible, engagement is never a problem. In reading through Sarasota Opera’s literature reporting on the opera, the word powerful appears many times. Michael Unger’s stage direction was instrumental in the power of this performance. The positioning, and jumpiness, of male characters at Reverend Parris’ house was tension-inducing. The distance kept between the Proctors at the farmhouse kitchen was indicative of the couple’s split and how their individual misunderstandings led to mutual isolation. The Act III courtroom was one of a sniveling and jeering cabal out to bring down the Proctors and whip up Abigail Williams on one side, and the outnumbered and drowned-out voice of reason on the other. By the time of Proctor’s booming high note of despair closing Act II, the stage was set for a bring-down-the-house performance.
The Palm Beach Arts Paper
Sarasota Opera season highlighted by brilliant “Crucible”. This powerful opera, which was given a strikingly brilliant performance, goes to the heart of this company’s success. Nine studio artists and eight apprentice artists were in the full cast of 21 singers, and enormous risk in casting terms. But it was a production that ranks in the top level of professional regional opera. Everyone was first-rate in acting, voice and diction. Stage director Michael Unger stayed close to Miller’s drama and made it wholly believable… the highlight of the weekend operas I saw.
The St. Petersburg Times
Sarasota Opera revival of ‘The Crucible’ is both familiar and scintillating. Sarasota Opera has revived the work in an excellent, often stirring production to launch its American Classics Series.
The Longboat Observer
Director Michael Unger has brought us a traditional production that transports us to the stark realities of the 1690s when people plowed and seeded a land that seemed “the size of a continent when you go foot by foot sowing new seed.” Unger’s characters [are] so real they could easily be your next door neighbors.
From Robert Kolt – author of Robert Ward’s The Crucible: Creating an American Musical Nationalism (Scarecrow Press, 2010)
Mr. Unger was the stage director for a production of The Crucible recently presented by the Sarasota Opera, and in my estimation it was a first-rate effort in all regards. Mr. Unger mentioned to me that he had read my book in preparation for this production and he was most kind in saying that it had helped in his conception of the work. Thanks to his thorough, studious preparation, Mr. Unger’s staging of this work was exactly what Robert Ward (who was present at the production) had in mind, and I most certainly concur with that sentiment. Mr. Unger proved that he well understood the intentions of the composer and his staging and direction fit the work in a way that allowed for its full impact, both dramatically and musically, to be revealed. His direction was mature and sensitive, insuring that the performers on stage understood their place within the dramatic whole. In addition to the exemplary “large-scale” directional aspects that Mr. Unger brought to these performances, I was extremely impressed by the subtle nuances of characterization that he not only understood, but imparted to the performers; aspects of production that insured excellent presentation. It is rare for presentations of opera to have the benefit of high quality stage direction such as that provided by Mr. Unger, but for the production mentioned above, his work insured memorable performances. This was shown not only by the enthusiastic audience reaction during the performances, but by the numerous laudatory critical reviews after the fact. Mr. Unger is to be congratulated for his fine work, and he would no doubt bring his skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm to any organization seeking a director of exceptional talent.
ABC Video interview below – click play and wait until ad is finished.