ABOUT THE OPERA
Scopes is a one act opera by composer Spencer Snyder and librettist George Gaffney. Directed by Victoria Benson and produced by The Fresh Squeezed Opera Company, it tells the story of the Scopes Monkey Trial. Run time is about 35 minutes.
Scopes divides the trial into four days. Over the four days the most notable events of the ordeal are depicted. While the judge, Bryan and Darrow interact as one would expect, the role of H. L. Mencken is that of a narrator. Mencken is cast as a soprano and uses his actual text from his reporting at the Baltimore Sun. The character is meant not only to give insight into how the trial was received in the day, but also to guide the audience in the details of the story.
Clarence Darrow, John Scopes’ defense attorney
William Jennings Bryan, the prosecution
Judge Raulston, the partisan judge
H. L. Mencken, reporter for The Baltimore Sun, acting as narrator
flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano
In a hot court room in Dayton, Tennessee
With squabbling between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan over the terms and equity of the trial, the judge commences the proceedings with a prayer. Following are the opening statements from the defense and the prosecution.
Darrow attempts to introduce a group of acclaimed scientists he wishes to give expert testimony. The testimony of the scientists is found to be irrelevant and Darrow has a subsequent outburst. This episode resulted in Darrow being held in contempt of court.
Darrow apologizes for the previous day’s eruption and the judge accepts. Bryan is then brought to the stand to give testimony on the Bible.
Closing statements from Darrow and Bryan are made before the judge ultimately rules in favor of the state. The defendant John Scopes is found guilty.