Hester – Musical

By Barbara Harbach, Libretto by Jonathan Yordy
Catalogue Number: 1008
Contact to Buy

H1008 Conductor’s Score, 208 pages, $99.00 (piano/vocal)
H1008 Libretto with Lyrics, 63 pages, $49.00
mp3s upon request

Based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter (1850), Hester – An American Musical contains portraits of the three main characters: Hester Prynne, Roger Chillingworth, and Arthur Dimmesdale. The church Elders, Hester’s daughter Pearl, and the witch create the unforgettable story.

Hester highlights the conflicts that she faced: guilt and confession, sin and purity, sex, and abstinence, making her a lasting heroine in American literature.  The music reflects these turbulent and conflicting qualities in dissonance versus lyricism, both rhythmically and melodically.  Hester faces indecision and anguish over her life choices, longing and searching for redemption and solace.

Chillingworth, Hester’s husband, is obsessed with exacting revenge on Hester and Dimmesdale.  He is portrayed as a symbol of evil who does the devil’s bidding.  His music is restless and dark portraying his obsession, conniving, and manipulation. The slower tempos indicate his evil ability to use the aura of sacred music to further his nefarious desires.

Dimmesdale, the ordained Puritan minister, struggles with the status of his soul: he ably carries out his pastoral duties but knows he has sinned and will be eternally doomed.  Themes are reminders of his fragility and guilt, and his confession on the scaffold.  Dimmesdale’s torture is depicted by the alternation of major and minor intervals and keys.