Pictured from left, Molly Clementz, Oxana Hughes, Kelly Guerra, and Audrey Yoder star in a production of Robert Ward’s 1962 opera based on the play by Arthur Miller.

Adrift in an atmosphere of savage violence masquerading as law and religion, two lonely individuals accept a tragic fate. By looking through Arthur Miller’s terrifying story of colonial Massachusetts, this beautiful production of Robert Ward’s opera The Crucible gave us a window onto our own era, replete with “witch hunts,” unreliable state’s attorneys, and darkly confused and dangerous internal terrorists. Wayne Tigges and Audrey Babcock were unforgettable as John and Elizabeth Proctor, the embattled couple who are improbably brought closer together by his human weakness and her vulnerability to false accusations of witchcraft. Anya Matanovic brought out every shade of nuance in their formidable adversary, the wily Abigail Williams, and Corey Bix brought out the boos and hisses at the final curtain call as the unyielding prosecutor, Judge Danforth.

 Aided by a terrific set and a marvelous supporting cast, the principals in this chilling tale delivered one of the season’s most exciting performances of any kind in Santa Barbara. With talent like this and such professional production values, Opera Santa Barbara has to be one of the most promising and watchable companies in the country. Their next season, which features Madama Butterfly in the opening slot at the Granada November 1 and 3, will be a hot ticket.


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