Mrs. President, the opera
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space
In 19th century America, women didn't have the right to vote, much less run for president. But in 1872, Victoria Woodhull did just that, and, much more recently, has inspired an opera based on her life.
In the opera Mrs. President, composer Victoria Bond has crafted a seething drama of ambition and betrayal, which tells the story of Woodhull's visionary struggle to defy history and become the first female President of the United States.
This performance is a preview of Anchorage Opera's October production in Alaska, and includes all of the arias and dramatic elements of the opera. Tenor Scott Ramsay portrays the charismatic preacher Henry Ward Beecher in Mrs. President and dramatic soprano Valerie Bernhardt will sing the title role of Victoria Woodhull. The cast also includes soprano Katrina Thurman as Isabella Beecher, soprano Rebecca Cloudy as Elizabeth Tilton, mezzo-soprano Joy Hermalyn as Roxie Claflin, tenor Kirk Dougherty as Joseph Treat and bass-baritone Robert Osborne as James Blood. Lemuel Wade directs. Cast bios, photos and other details are at www.MrsPresidentTheOpera.com.
Based on a real person, Victoria Woodhull's life story reads like grand opera. Her run for president in 1872 was just the tip of the iceberg. She was a clairvoyant, publisher, jailbird, stockbroker and proponent of free love. Despite her courage and persistence, Woodhull was viciously attacked by the conservative society in which she lived, a movement which was spear-headed by the powerful and influential preacher Henry Ward Beecher. Woodhull spent Election Day in prison, jailed for revealing Beecher's secret life, a sex scandal that ignited the public and the press.
In a review of the 2008 workshop performance of Mrs. President at Guild Hall in East Hampton, Fred Volkmer of The East Hampton Star writes, "Not only is the opera significant for what it says about the nature of men and women and their equality, something that we continue to strive for. But it is revelatory of what new music-music that adheres to tonality and celebrates the lyric capabilities of the human voice-can be."
Information about Anchorage Opera, including details of their 50th anniversary season, is at www.AnchorageOpera.org. Full synopsis of Mrs. President, the opera, bios of composer Victoria Bond and librettist Hilary Bell, hi-resolution photos and details about the New York and Anchorage productions are at www.MrsPresidentTheOpera.com.1740