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    Letter, The



    In the summer of 2009 the world premiere of The Letter arrived special delivery from composer Paul Moravec and librettist Terry Teachout. A hard-boiled dame cooks up her own little Singapore fling. Her double-crossing lover gets a lethal dose of lead as a lovely parting gift. Her sap of a husband helps her get away with murder. Almost… Opera’s classic ingredients—lust, adultery, and revenge—are dished up noir style in this world premiere production. The Letter will be conducted by Patrick Summers and staged by Jonathan Kent, with scenery by Hildegard Bechtler and costumes by Tom Ford. Patricia Racette stars as the venomous Leslie Crosbie, Anthony Michaels-Moore plays her husband and James Maddalena is their ethically challenged lawyer.


    Composed by Paul Moravec
    Performed in English

    The opera is set in British Malaya between the world wars. The weather is hot and humid at all times.

    Scene I The Murder
    The Crosbie’s bungalow

    Six gunshots are heard in the darkness. Leslie Crosbie is discovered standing over the body of Geoff Hammond. She telephones John Withers, a colonial official, and asks him to come at once, bringing her husband Robert.

    Scene II The Confession
    The same, two hours later

    Withers, Robert Crosbie, and Howard Joyce, Robert’s lawyer, have arrived. Leslie tells them that she shot Geoff when he tried to rape her. Joyce explains that they will have to leave for Singapore, where Leslie will be arraigned on a charge of murder; he is puzzled by the fact that several gunshots seem to have been fired while Geoff was lying on the ground. Leslie claims to have been so upset that she can’t remember exactly what happened.

    Scene III The Letter
    Howard Joyce’s law office in Singapore, two weeks later

    Joyce tells Robert he expects Leslie will be acquitted, especially now that Hammond was known to be living with a Chinese woman. Ong Chi Seng, Joyce’s law clerk, tells him that Leslie sent a compromising letter to Hammond on the day of the murder. He shows Joyce a copy of the letter and says that it will cost ten thousand dollars to buy the original from Hammond’s mistress.

    Scene IV The Interview
    Leslie’s jail cell, an hour later

    At first Leslie denies having written the letter, but then admits it is genuine. In a flashback, the actual events are portrayed: Leslie killed Geoff after he announced he was leaving her for his Chinese mistress. Leslie pleads with Joyce to buy the letter in order to save her life. He reluctantly agrees to seek Robert’s permission to do so.

    Scene V The Club
    The Singapore Club, late that afternoon

    Joyce tells Robert about the letter, explaining its significance but not showing him the copy. Robert agrees to pay whatever is necessary to purchase it.

    Scene VI The Woman
    Joyce’s office, later that night

    Ong Chi Seng arrives with Hammond’s mistress. After some hesitation, she agrees to sell the letter.

    Scene VII The Verdict
    A Singapore courtroom, the next day

    The judge asks the foreman whether the jury has reached a verdict. To Leslie, the foreman appears to be the blood-soaked Geoff Hammond, who finds her guilty and condemns her to death by hanging. The real-life foreman announces that she has been acquitted.

    Scene VIII The Truth
    The bungalow, that same evening

    Robert announces that he plans to move with Leslie to Sumatra, where he has found an estate for sale. Joyce informs him that his savings were wiped out in order to purchase the letter, and Robert demands to see it. When he finds out what really happened, he tells Leslie that he loves her in spite of what she has done. “With all my heart,” she replies, “I still love the man I killed!”


    • Leslie Crosbie - Patricia Racette
    • Chinese Woman - Mika Shigematsu
    • Geoff Hammond - Roger Honeywell
    • Ong Chi Seng - Rodell Rosel
    • John Withers - Keith Jameson
    • Robert Crosbie - Anthony Michaels-Moore
    • Howard Joyce - James Maddalena
    • Conductor - Patrick Summers
    • Director - Jonathan Kent
    • Scenic Designer - Hildegard Bechtler
    • Costume Designer - Tom Ford
    • Lighting Designer - Duane Schuler


    Patricia Racette (Leslie Crosbie)

    Patricia Racette

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    Mika Shigematsu (Chinese Woman)

    Mika Shigematsu

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    Roger Honeywell (Geoff Hammond)

    Roger Honeywell

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    Rodell Rosel (Ong Chi Seng)

    Rodell Rosel

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    Keith Jameson (John Withers)

    Keith Jameson

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    Anthony Michaels-Moore (Robert Crosbie)

    Anthony Michaels-Moore

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    James Maddalena (Howard Joyce)

    James Maddalena

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    Patrick Summers (Conductor)

    Patrick Summers

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    Jonathan Kent (Director)

    Jonathan Kent

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    Hildegard Bechtler (Scenic Designer)

    Hildegard Bechtler

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    Tom Ford (Costume Designer)

    Tom Ford

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    Duane Schuler (Lighting Designer)

    Duane Schuler

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    Video and Audio

    Paul Moravec's "Tempest Fantasy"

    This excerpt is movement #4 (“Sweet Airs”) from Paul Moravec’s “Tempest Fantasy.”  It is performed by clarinetist David Krakauer and the Trio Solisti on Naxos Records CD # 8.559323. “Tempest Fantasy” won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2004.

    To purchase this CD through Amazon, click here

    For more information on Paul Moravec, click here. 

    For more information on Naxos Records, click here

    Production Introduction (2:00 duration)
    Charles MacKay, General Director of The Santa Fe Opera, talks about the world premiere of Paul Moravec's The Letter.
    Scene 1 - Murder (:20 duration)
    A distraught Leslie Crosbie realizes that she has just shot and killed her lover Geoff Hammond.
    Scene 4 - The flashback (1:05 duration)
    The actual events leading up to the shooting are portrayed: Leslie killed Geoff after he informed her that he was leaving her for his Chinese mistress.
    Scene 6 - The mistress (:41 duration)
    After some hesitation, Hammond's mistress agrees to sell the letter.
    Scene 8 - Robert's loyalty
    Upon reading the letter, Robert tells Leslie he still loves her in spite of what she has done.