Opera: New Music, Old Legend

Other than the cherry tree in George Washington's backyard, the most celebrated American victims of an ax are Andrew and Abigail Borden, who were cut down in their Fall River, Mass., home on a hot summer morning in 1892. Although their daughter Lizzie was acquitted of the crime, legend—in the form of books, plays and even a ballet—has found her guilty. Last week the New York City Opera presented Lizzie again as the strong-willed woman of the legend in a striking new opera by U.S. Composer Jack Beeson.

In this opera, commissioned by the Ford Foundation, Librettist Kenward Elmslie has...

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