1970: Of Mice and Men World Premiere

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Seattle Opera’s first commissioned opera was Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men. This powerful American drama, based on the well-known Steinbeck story, premiered in Seattle in January 1970 and quickly became one of Floyd’s most often-performed operas. (Seattle Opera also presented his The Passion of Jonathan Wade in 1993.) A fine recording of a Houston production starring Gordon Hawkins, Anthony Dean Griffey, and Julian Patrick, is available at www.albanyrecords.com/Merchant2/merc…ode=TROY621-22.

In this excerpt, ranch hands George, Candy, and Slim have discovered the corpse of Curley’s wife—killed inadvertently by Lennie, who doesn’t know his own strength. George sadly takes Slim’s gun and exits, prepared to give his slow-witted best friend a mercy killing before Curley comes for revenge. Old Candy (Archie Drake), his hopes for a better future finally dashed, curses Curley’s wife (Floyd wrote his own libretto): “May you rot in hell for what you took from us!” Drake created the role in 1970 and reprised his performance in the 1976 Seattle Opera revival excerpted here, conducted by Richard Buckley.

Photo (William Chapman as George, Donald Collins as Slim, Kathy Knight as Curley’s Wife, and Archie Drake as Candy) by Des Gates.