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An Adirondack Murder, An American Tragedy

An American Tragedy, the opera by Tobias Picker, can be heard in preview this afternoon at 5:30 pm at View in Old Forge.  The 2005 opera will be revived next summer at the Glimmerglass Festival.  (Image:  View)
An American Tragedy, the opera by Tobias Picker, can be heard in preview this afternoon at 5:30 pm at View in Old Forge. The 2005 opera will be revived next summer at the Glimmerglass Festival. (Image: View)

The Great Adirondack Myth Revived in Old Forge

Later today in Old Forge, members of the Glimmerglass Festival opera company will give a preview of their revival of An American Tragedy.

The opera by Tobias Picker premiered in 2005 at the Metropolitan Opera. It tells the story of Grace Brown, a girl who was murdered in the Adirondacks more than a century ago. This evening's performance will be at View in Old Forge and will include a new aria written for the revival at Glimmerglass.

When An American Tragedy first premiered at the Met, Brian Mann traveled to New York City and to Big Moose Lake. His story first aired in 2005.  Go to full article
After 105 years, the murder trial still makes headlines
After 105 years, the murder trial still makes headlines

American Tragedy murder in Big Moose Lake continues to echo

This weekend in Blue Mountain Lake, the Adirondack Museum will host a lecture on the Chester Gillette murder trial. The 1906 murder of Grace Brown on Big Moose Lake was one of the biggest national scandals of its day. The case inspired "American Tragedy," one of the great novels of the 20th century. In the decades since, the story of Grace Brown and Chester Gillette has sparked more novels, operas, folk songs, Hollywood films and documentaries. In 2005, Brian Mann set out to travel from the Adirondacks to New York City, to trace why this particular murder case continues to hold such a grip on our imagination.  Go to full article
Convicted murderer Chester Gillette
Convicted murderer Chester Gillette

"American Tragedy" Weapon Found

Members of the Herkimer County Historical Society say they've found the antique tennis racket used in the "American Tragedy" murder a century ago. The racket's authenticity was confirmed using marks from the murder trial. Brian Mann has details.  Go to full article
Tobias Picker featured in Opera News
Tobias Picker featured in Opera News

Interview: American Tragedy Composer Tobias Picker

The opera version of American Tragedy premiers tonight in New York City. The score was written by composer Tobias Picker. Picker sat down last week with Brian Mann to talk about the project. Picker spent time researching the story in the Adiorondacks. He says Theodore Dreiser's classic novel is still contemporary, in part because of its attention to the tension between evangelical Christianity and American capitalism.  Go to full article
A scene from <i>American Tragedy</i> (Source: Metropolitan Opera)
A scene from American Tragedy (Source: Metropolitan Opera)

An Adirondack Murder on Stage at the Met

On December 2nd 2005, the Metropolitan Opera unveiled a new work based on Theodore Dreiser's classic novel American Tragedy. Dreiser's novel was inspired by a true Adirondack story. In the summer of 1906, a young man named Chester Gillette took his pregnant girlfriend boating on Big Moose Lake, near Old Forge. The next day, Grace Brown's body was found floating in a secluded cove in South Bay. Chester Gillette tried to flee, but was captured in Inlet and tried for murder. The case sparked a media frenzy and made headlines around the world. As Brian Mann reports, over the last century it has become a part of American mythology.  Go to full article

Readers & Writers: Jennifer Donnely, author of A Northern Light

Set in the Old Forge area at the turn of the 19th century, A Northern Light revisits the crime that inspired An American Tragedy from a fresh perspective. This novel, suitable for young adult as well as adult audiences, is this year's book selection of the three-county community reading program North Country Reads. Author Jennifer Donnelly is joined by hosts Ellen Rocco and Chris Robinson, and by Barbara Wheeler from the North Country Reads project.  Go to full article
Grace Brown
Grace Brown

Grace Brown's Last Love Letter

At Chester Gillette's trial in Herkimer, the prosecution read from Grace Brown's love letters. The last of those letters was written a week before her murder. The letter is read by Jennifer Donnelly, who grew up in Lewis County. She's the author of a novel about the murder called A Northern Light, the 2006 selection of North Country Reads--a one-book, one community program--and is tonight's guest on Readers & Writers at 7 pm.  Go to full article
Chester Gillette, convicted of Grace Brown's murder.
Chester Gillette, convicted of Grace Brown's murder.

On Big Moose Lake, Adirondack Murder & American Myth

One of the most controversial events in Adirondack history is back in the news this week. In July of 1906, a handsome young man named Chester Gillette was accused of drowning his pregnant girlfriend, Grace Brown, in a secluded cove at Big Moose Lake. Gillette was the nephew of a mill-owner in Cortland, New York. Brown was one of the company's workers. Gillette's trial and execution made headlines around the world. The story is the basis for Theodore Dreiser's classic novel An American Tragedy.

In the hundred years since, the murder inspired other novels, plays, and two Hollywood movies -- including the classic film A Place In the Sun. Tomorrow, a new opera based on the murder and Theodore Dreiser's novel will premier at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Brian Mann spoke with Charles Adams, who's been a summer resident of Big Moose Lake since the 1930s. Adams drives a tour boat on the lake and is part of the Grace Brown Committee that is commemorating the anniversary of her murder.  Go to full article

1-8 of 8 stories

This one-community one-book project features Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light, a retelling of the Grace Brown murder story within a young woman's coming-of-age tale. North Country Reads website

The Hotel Glennmore on Big Moose Lake, where Brown and Gillette were staying before the murder.

The murder inspired novels, plays, and Hollywood films,
including the American classic novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser