A New Opera

The Garden of Martyrs was a winner of The American Prize. Among judges’ comments: strong and grand…a stage-worthy descendant of Ward’s ‘The Crucible.’” 

Garden of MartyrsPacks Academy of Music. Picture credits Jon Crispin

“The audience was on its feet almost before the curtain could be raised for the curtain calls, raining down ‘bravoes’ on Sunday afternoon’s sold-out performance of the new opera ‘The Garden of Martyrs.’”

Springfield Republican

Attorney General Sullivan (Vernon Hartman), Father Cheverus (William Hite) and Dominic Daley (Alan Schneider) Picture credits Jon Crispin.

“While clearly of particular local interest, the story has wider, even international resonance. It is a compelling opera, and the production was outstanding and the performances convincing.”

“Sawyer’s music…subtly draw[s] us into the story. At the outset, confronted with a mob, we feel like observers, but we become more involved and attached to the characters such that by the end we feel we are a part of the mob listening to Cheverus’s funeral oration. We understand the messages of forgiveness and redemption and of the danger of catastrophic events resulting from rushed actions and hidden agendas.”

“One of the striking features of the work is the libretto. It is tight, smooth, unaffected modern speech, much of it prose but in several instances rhyming verse with virtually no artificiality…The language speaks directly to the audience.” Boston Musical Intellgencer

Halligan and Cheverus. Picture credits Jon Crispin

“Erdman never once loses his characters which is a most wonderful aspect of this sung play. Eyes closed you can tell who is saying something. His terse and terrific libretto is matched in the tonal qualities of Eric Sawyer’s music…[the] music is sweet and strong and sometimes stunning, as in back to the wall-knees weak stunning.”
Berkshire Bright Focus

Father Cheverus (William Hite) reflecting on the prisoners James Halligan(Keith Phares) and Dominic Daley (Alan Schneider) Picture credits Jon Crispin

“[The] tension was made all the more palpable by Sawyer’s score. His music brims with spacious intervals, transparent textures, and agitated rhythms, all of which came alive through the crisp playing of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.”
Boston Classical Review