July 2008
Disc 1: 67:00
Disc 2: 65:20
  • Boston Modern Orchestra Project
  • Gil Rose, conductor

Our American Cousin is a monumental work of American contemporary opera, which draws upon the tragic events of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. A collaborative invention of composer Eric Sawyer and librettist John Shoptaw, the opera juxtaposes past with present, comedy with tragedy, musical period references with operatic genre pieces, all within a language of lyrical extended tonality.

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CD price: 35.99

Track listing

Disc 1 
 Our American Cousin (2007)
 Act I
2.Scene 1: A Sneeze
3.Scene 1: Arts of Theater
4.Scene 2: Harry Hawk's Substitute
5.Scene 2: Walking a Corduroy Road
6.Scene 3: Mathews and Booth
7.Scene 3: What Happens Here?
8.Scene 4: Chorus of Women
9.Scene 4: Chorus of Amputees
10.Scene 4: Chorus of Freedmen
11.Scene 4: Chorus of Nurses
12.Scene 4: Chorus of Businessmen
13.Scene 5: Drinking Song
14.Scene 6: Laura Keene
15.Scene 6: Emancipate your Sorrows
 Act II
16.Scene 1: Father and Daughter
17.Scene 1: I Feel a Draft
18.Scene 1: Asa's Letter
19.Scene 1: A Moneyed Man
20.Scene 3: Introductions
21.Scene 3: Possum Herding
22.Scene 3: Lincoln
Disc 2 
 Scene 1: In the Dairy
1.Scene 1: Sic Semper Booth
2.Scene 5: Blood Stains

News and Press

[CD Review] Music Web International reviews Eric Sawyer: Our American Cousin

Just in time for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln comes this ambitious opera from American composer Eric Sawyer and librettist John Shoptaw. This is courtesy of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, an exciting program of releases focusing on modern American music.

Music Web International Full review
[CD Review] American Record Guide reviews Eric Sawyer: Our American Cousin

A glance at the above cast list might prove to be confusing. Here real people are juxtaposed with characters from a play. What kind of opera is this? A finely crafted, cleverly inventive one. Librettist John Shoptaw has combined a play (Our American Cousin by Tom Taylor, 1851) and real history (the assassination of President Lincoln, April 14, 1865). The assassination is told from the perspective of the actors performing the play at Ford’s Theater in Washington. Backstage and audience realities alternate with (decidedly unfunny and rather too many) scenes from the play.

American Record Guide Full review
[CD Review] Fanfare reviews Eric Sawyer: Our American Cousin

This is a wonderful surprise. When the Editor proposed the disc, from the title I suspected it would be about the Lincoln assassination, as Our American Cousin was the name of the play performed that evening in Ford’s Theater. But I did not know the composer, Eric Sawyer (b. 1962), nor his librettist John Shoptaw, and knew nothing of this opera, which is truly “hot off the press,” having been premiered in Boston just last year.

Fanfare Full review
[CD Review] ClassicalCDReview reviews Eric Sawyer: Our American Cousin

Don’t expect the Tom Taylor comedy Lincoln attended the night he got shot. The opera tells the story of the Lincoln assassination seen through the viewpoints mainly of the actors in Ford’s Theater. The effect comes close to what it would be like if Hamlet were told by the company of players. One notes a lot of talk about the Founding Fathers these days, and other than the cynical manipulations of those figures and their thought according to whatever party line, it probably goes through and over most people’s heads.

ClassicalCDReview Full review
[Press Release] BMOP/sound releases Eric Sawyer: Our American Cousin

BMOP/sound, the nation's foremost label launched by an orchestra and devoted exclusively to new music recordings, announces the release of its fifth CD Eric Sawyer: Our American Cousin. A collaborative invention of composer Eric Sawyer and librettist John Shoptaw, Our American Cousin is a two-disc opera CD, which draws upon the tragic events of Abraham Lincoln's assassination in Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865. The work offers something new in the realm of American contemporary opera as it presents a unique and refreshing panorama of a familiar story in American history.

Full review