OP3015. CARRY NATION (Douglas Moore), recorded 1968, w.Krachmalnick Cond.NYC Opera Ensemble; Beverly Wolff, Ellen Faull, Julian Patrick, Arnold Voketaitis, etc. 2-Bay Cities BCD-1012/13. Final sealed copy. - 0 9465-91012-2 5
Carry Nation is an opera in a prologue and 2 acts by composer Douglas Moore which is based on the life of temperance activist Carrie Nation. The work uses an English-language libretto by W. N. Jayme. The opera was commissioned by the University of Kansas in commemoration of the school's 100th anniversary. The premiere performance was given at KU's Murphy Hall on 28 March, 1966 with a cast headlined by four professional opera singers brought in for the event, and the supporting cast supplied by KU's music and theatre students. Lewin Goff staged the production and Robert Baustian conducted. The opera was subsequently given its first professional production at the San Francisco Opera in June 1966 under the baton of Herbert Grossman. The New York City Opera mounted the first New York production in March 1968 and released a recording of the work in 1969. All three of these initial stagings and the recording starred mezzo-soprano Beverly Wolff in the title role.
This opera shows the mastery of Douglas Moore painting a vivid portrait of the crucial moments of the life of the woman that spearheaded the Prohibition. It begins with a prologue in present time, when Carry and her lady followers trash a joint in Topeka, and then takes us to the past in the next two acts, where it tells us the circumstances that led to this innocent and religious woman to become the violent activist against the places where alcohol was sold. Make no mistake, she was not out to save the drinkers (although she believed she did), she was to destroy the very thing she believed was the cause of the ruin of many a life: alcohol. And to reach to her resolve to do this, she had to endure an almost insane mother (but still with understanding of what is happening), a zealot father and a marriage to an alcoholic man she loved but lost to that which became her enemy. For this to happen, she got a religious zeal alike her father's, that happened to be her guide first, rival next and inspiration at the last. It was through her suffering that she got her resolve, but she didn't see that the cause of many self-destructions is inside oneself. A truly moving opera, with splendid singing of the four principals, showing us the magnificient mezzosoprano Beverly Wolff in glorious voice, the bass Arnold Voketaitis (Carry's father), the soprano Ellen Faull (Carry's mother) and the baritone Julian Patrick (her husband Charles) balancing a magnificent quartet that bring us tragedy in a way only opera can do. The use of the chorus is excellent.
- Domingo Warner