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Two Opera Performances Dedicated to Arthur Miller

miller

The Indiana University School of Music joins the world in mourning the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller and will dedicate the final two performances of the opera A View from the Bridge to his memory this weekend. Miller died last night at his home in Roxbury, Conn., of congestive heart failure. He was 89.

IU Opera Theater is currently staging the first collegiate production of A View from the Bridge, with music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom and a libretto by Arthur Miller and Arnold Weinstein. Miller's original A View from the Bridge has been described as his most operatic writing. In fact, Bolcom discovered that an early sketch of the play was even subtitled An Opera. It was originally a screenplay called The Hook, written by Miller with assistance from the late director Elia Kazan. Miller withdrew the script in response to McCarthy-era studio complaints that it was un-American. Its basic themes of waterfront corruption, love, loyalty and betrayal resurfaced, though, in Kazan's 1954 Oscar-winning film, On the Waterfront, starring Marlon Brando. Miller reshaped the script into A View from the Bridge, which is set in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., during the 1950s.

Miller received the Pulitzer Prize in 1949 for Death of a Salesman featuring the now-famous character Willy Loman, a man eventually destroyed by his belief in American capitalism, which has played on stages worldwide and also been made into a movie. That same year, he won the Tony Award for Best Play. Fifty years later, in 1999, Death of a Salesman won another Tony for Best Revival of the Broadway season while Brian Dennehy, who played Loman, captured the Best Actor prize. Miller was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

He won the New York Drama Critics' Circle's Best Play award for All My Sons in 1947 and again for Salesman in 1949. In 1953, he received another Tony, this time for The Crucible, a play about the Salem witch trials that was inspired by McCarthyism. The Crucible, his most frequently performed work, was also used as the basis for a Pulitzer Prize-winning opera by the same name, composed by Robert Ward in 1961.

The performances of A View from the Bridge will take place at the Musical Arts Center in Bloomington, Indiana on Friday and Saturday evening, February 11 and 12, 8:00 p.m. For more information about the performances, please go to www.music.indiana.edu.