WORLD PREMIERE PERFORMANCES OF OUR AMERICAN COUSIN
The world premiere of the fully-staged opera took place on June 20, 2008 at the Academy of Music Theater in Northampton, Massachusetts, the city’s 800-seat 1892 opera house, not unlike Ford’s Theatre. Our American Cousin, an opera composed by Eric Sawyer
with libretto by John Shoptaw, tells the story of Abraham Lincoln’s final evening through the eyes of the actors and audience at Ford’s Theater. The performances featured the acclaimed Boston Modern Orchestra Project and some of New England’s foremost opera stars. Stage direction was by Carole Charnow, general director of Opera Boston.
The performance coincided with the release of a commercial recording of the opera on the BMOP/sound label
…this is one of the freshest, most ambitious new American operas I’ve heard in ages. Instead of taking up once again some cinematic or literary retread, it actually dares to use original material. And it also dares to take up historical events and musical tropes without succumbing to mere costume drama…I appreciate, admire, and enjoy Sawyer’s voice. And I hope this is only the first of Shoptaw’s librettos. As a first collaboration, the result is stunning.