The new opera will be based on Somerset Maugham's play The Letter, a drama of adultery, murder and blackmail in the Far East which was made into a 1940 film starring Bette Davis. Terry Teachout, theater critic for The Wall Street Journal and music critic for Commentary magazine, will write the libretto.
"We're shaping The Letter into a very tight structure," said Teachout, "ninety minutes with no intermission. We want it to have the feel of a film noir and the impact of a verismo opera."
The winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for music for Tempest Fantasy, a "musical meditation" on the Shakespeare play scored for piano trio and clarinet, Moravec has degrees in music composition from Harvard and Columbia Universities. Among his many honors have been the Rome Prize and fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is a professor at Adelphi University on Long Island and was recently appointed Artist-in-Residence at the Insitute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. His work is published by Subito Music Publishing.
The Santa Fe Opera commission was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.