Composed by Douglas J. Cuomo
Libretto by John Patrick Shanley
Premiered by Minnesota Opera at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota, January 26, 2013
August 19, 20, 26, and 27 [8pm]
Presented in English with projected English supertitles.
Directed by Tim Ocel
Conducted by Scott Schoonover
Performed in two acts with one intermission
Place: St. Nicholas, a Catholic church and school in the Bronx, New York, 1964
The principal of the school (Sister Aloysius) begins to suspect the parish priest (Father Flynn) of having improper relations with an eighth grade student (Donald Miller). After receiving a bit of information from Donald’s teacher (Sister James) and interviewing the boy’s mother (Mrs. Miller) Sister Aloysius confronts Father Flynn.
John Patrick Shanley, on Doubt:
When I wrote the play, we were living in a time of great “certainty” in our country, leading up to the Iraq War, and I didn’t feel certain. And the culture around me seemed to be sending me the message that I didn’t feel certain because I was weak. I didn’t agree with that. So, that germ of an idea, about certainty and doubt, was there. But, it’s not something that I would have written about just by itself. And then I thought about the black mother, and I thought that was an interesting story. That’s when things started to get interesting. Because in all of my experiences of life, people have their reasons for doing things, and there are rarely very specific reasons why people do things. It’s usually a fairly complicated tale. And I wanted to tell that tale.
Praise for Doubt following the 2013 World Premiere at Minnesota Opera:
Of this there is no doubt: the opera, with a libretto by Shanley and music by Douglas J. Cuomo, makes for a gripping 2 1/2 hours of theatre…[Cuomo] has an ear for subtle dissonance, and his inventive orchestrations are enhanced by judicious use of saxophone, piano and celeste. – Mike Silverman, Associated Press via Washington Post
Mr. Cuomo’s orchestral writing…is fluent and attractive in a studiedly accessible sort of way. Particularly memorable are incursions of Bernsteinian dance and Glassian Minimalism. – James R. Oestreich, The New York Times
[Doubt] is an absorbing opera of ideas – a philosophical yet lyrical whodunit, cunningly inconclusive, that speaks to the heart…Cuomo’s music is of quite power, most moving when most intimate; he knows how to insinuate what cannot be spoken. Though unmistakably American in sound, he avoids both pop cliché and music-theatre razzmatazz. – Larry Fuchsberg, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Douglas Cuomo’s music serves to expand the emotional palette of Shanley’s words, layering levels of meaning onto exchanges and adding extra shadings to an already complex tale…It’s a production worth experiencing. It’s impressively sung and staged, its story’s ambiguity enhanced by Cuomo’s conflicted music. – Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities Pioneer Press