Track 1: The Prison, Act 1, Scene 2

 

Hester is found in her cell, tending to her baby, Pearl, who is ill. Chillingworth enters, a doctor come to offer medicine, and the two recognize each other at once. “You know me,” he sings, and Hester acknowledges she had thought him dead for the past two years. As the two powerful figures relate the past, we learn that Chillingworth, much older than Hester, had convinced her to marry him when she was a young and innocent girl in England. He was a student of dark knowledge, alchemy and science, a man who felt cut off from life and hoped this young beauty might give him vitality. She was looking for a father figure. Chillingworth's aria is at the center of the scene, his sense of physical deformity and age, his desire for love. Hester responds with the pain of mistaken youth, how lonely she had been arriving in the New World without her husband. The old man now turns angry that she remains so defiant, refusing to name her child's father, and vows that he will discover who has sinned against him. When he has left, Hester sings her haunting lullaby to her daughter, Pearl, at the close of the scene.
Track 2: Dimmesdale’s Lament, Act I, Scene 4 (excerpts)

 

Dimmesdale sings his aria of tortured love: “I am a man, / a single life beneath these stars, / a beggar on an empty road.” We have learned that Dimmesdale wants to redeem himself by doing some good work among the Indians, starting the next day. Here Chillingworth, returned from the Governor’s deathbed, finds his young “friend” again, and menacingly coaxes him to return to their home and rest.
Track 3: The Forest Scene, Act II, Scene 1

 

Hester and Pearl are out walking the woods at the edge of town when Chillingworth discovers them. He taunts Hester with his knowledge of the truth, threatening to expose the father of her child. Nothing is left to him but hate, he sings. Hester too has knowledge of his fraudulent life, and when she promises to expose him in return he departs in a rage. Alone with her daughter, Hester sings of how strange it seems, this human justice, out in the inhuman world of endless forest. When Dimmesdale appears, returning from his ministry to the Indians, we can see that Hester has been waiting for him. The two lovers encounter each other warily at first, a wall of grief between them, but it soon becomes clear that they forgive and still yearn for each other. Hester warns the minister about his friendship with Chillingworth, then, inspired by the boundless nature surrounding her, she pleads with him to step outside the narrow confines of the community and see the world anew. Where, she asks, is the “one law” the community chanted? What makes the law? How can the law be larger than their love? In a passionate duet the lovers sing “Our Eden here is love,” and Hester unclasps the scarlet letter from her breast and casts it aside. This idyll, though, is interrupted by the child, Pearl, who has been off playing by herself. Decked with wildflowers like some child of nature, Pearl is her own kind of judge. Now afraid of approaching her own father, she points to the absence of the letter on her mother’s breast like an angel of strange justice. Hester reproaches the child, but concedes that it will not be so easy to leave the burden of communal judgment. Still, the lovers promise to meet on Election Day when a ship will carry them away from this place, somewhere they can be free. Alone again, Dimmesdale suddenly loses his confidence, singing, “Hester. Hester Prynne. / Can we be free of sin?”
Track 4: The Revelation, Act II, Scene 2 (excerpts)

 

The young reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is to deliver a sermon. As Dimmesdale sings an aria to the communal good, the very reality which has thwarted every personal desire he has felt, his physical illness and his emotional anguish begin to cave in on him. He descends to the street with the dignitaries as the Chorus sings of one law for all. Seeing Hester and Pearl before him, Dimmesdale reaches out to them. Chillingworth tries to stop this connection from occurring, but Dimmesdale brushes him aside and mounts the scaffold by the jailhouse, just as Hester had done alone in the beginning. Here before the astonished crowd, the young minister sings the aria of his guilt, opening himself for the first time publicly to the love of Hester and their child. “At last,” he sings, “I stand upon the spot I should have taken years ago.” And he tears open his robe and tunic, exposing a scarlet letter branded into his own flesh. “You have escaped me,” Chillingworth sings, defeated. As Dimmesdale dies, his lover and their child have joined him on the scaffold.
The piano/vocal score for THE SCARLET LETTER, as well as 7 individual arias, will be available for purchase after revisions. For more information, please contact Glendower Jones of Classical Vocal Repertoire at 1-800-298-7474.

 

The individual arias are:

Beyond All Price and Canopy of Trees (soprano)
Come To The Devil's Fire (mezzo-soprano)
Now Truly Know Me (baritone)
Our Eden Here is Love (soprano and tenor duet)
Our Nights and Ye People of New England (tenor)

The Prison Scene (Act I, Scene 2) can also be purchased separately, and sung as a soprano/ baritone duet.

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Excerpts recorded by:

Megan Monaghan as Hester Prynne
Robert Holden as Roger Chillingworth
Jeremy Little as Arthur Dimmesdale
Lori Laitman, piano

Recorded at The Spencerville Seventh Day Adventist Church, Silver Spring, Maryland, July 27, 2008
Recording Engineer: Edward John Kelly