John and Abigail(2013)
John and Abigail was commissioned by SongFest and premiered at SongFest on July 21, 2013.
John and Abigail sets to music certain passages from the letters that John and Abigail Adams exchanged during the summer and fall of 1775. As a central player in the American colonies’ struggle for independence, John Adams was frequently called away from his home in Braintree, Massachusetts. The correspondence between him and Abigail (1,160 letters have survived) tells the story of a loving marriage which endured multiple hardships. It is also a window into the momentous political events of the day. In 1775, John was spending long periods of time in Philadelphia where the Continental Congress was debating issues concerning independence. Meanwhile, the Revolutionary War was underway. Left alone to care for the family farm and their five children, Abigail relates the joys and hardships of daily life as well as numerous crisis’s including threats from British soldiers, shortages of food and supplies, and an epidemic of dysentery which claimed the life of her mother. The selected passages highlight the constant struggle between John and Abigail’s yearning to be reunited and the necessity of John’s work in the Congress. The performers sing in solo sections, in dialogue, and in harmony, capturing the emotional depth of this historic correspondence.