Adams National Historical Park has embraced the performing arts, bringing history to life and engaging the audience in ways that elude the textbook and guided tour. On Saturday, June 21st the park celebrated Father's Day with a performance of A Distant Love: Songs of John and Abigail Adams, presented by Chelsea Opera of New York. The presentation provided the opportunity for public engagement in a program that offers a unique venue in presenting history, culture, and the performing arts for the education and enjoyment of the community. The public is often aware of the Adams' contributions to the country's government and history, but unaware of the sacrifices they made in their service to country; or their early readings and education in literature and appreciation of the performing arts.
We went to the Opera, where the Scenery, dancing and Music afforded to my Curiosity a cheerful and sprightly entertainment, having never seen any Thing of the kind before.Our American Theatres had not then existed even in Contemplation. John Adams, 1778.
Inspired by the letters of John and Abigail, A Distant Love: Songs of John and Abigail Adams, brings together the best of history and the performing arts, and reveals a story that is as compelling and relevant today as it was over 200 years past. A common theme throughout their correspondence is sacrifice.
In the Dining room of the Old House at Peace field, hanging above the fireplace, is the last portrait that was painted of John Adams. His son John Quincy commissioned the portrait to be painted, to capture a likeness of his father, the elder statesman, in his later years. John Adams died 3 years later just shy of 91 years. The deep lines on his face are like a road map of his turbulent years in public life, each line symbolizing the many challenges he faced and overcame, and the sacrifices he made in some 27 years of public service.
During the revolutionary war years, from 1774 to 1784, John Adams was separated from his family for 10 years, with only two brief visits home.The legacy of those years is the birth of our nation. But, there is another legacy, the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams.
If Abigail was the Patriot on the Home front then John was the travelling patriot. Abigail experienced the revolution from their humble cottage at the foot of Penns Hill, which sat on the Old Coast Road, the super highway of the day, connecting Boston to Plymouth, MA. John's super highway led him to Philadelphia, the Netherlands, and France. The letters they wrote to each other during long periods of separation give us two unique perspectives on the revolution and offer a deeper understanding of their experiences. Putting their words to song,and performing in the setting of John and Abigail's home at Peace field was a perfect marriage of art and history.
A Distant Love: Songs of John and Abigail Adams: music by Gary S. Fagin, Libretto by, Terry Quinn and co-produced by, Leonarda Priore and Lynne Hayden-Findlay. The performance was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts –Art Works Program, and by the Friends of Chelsea Opera.
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