GREAT PERFORMANCES: WILLIE STARK (TV)

Summary

One in this series on the performing arts. This Houston Grand Opera production of Carlisle Floyd's English-language opera was staged by Harold Prince. Based on the novel "All the King's Men" by Robert Penn Warren, the opera, set in the South during the Depression, portrays the final days in the life of Gov. Willie Stark (Nolen), a charismatic, corrupt politician who is in danger of being impeached. With his staff -- Duffy (Vosburgh), his muckraking lieutenant governor; Sugarboy (Moulson), his simpleminded bodyguard; and Sadie (Curtis), his devoted assistant and occasional lover -- Stark uses intimidating tactics and threats of blackmail to force members of the Senate to halt the impeachment proceedings. When he learns that the powerful Judge Burden (Garrard) is calling for his resignation, he decides to coerce the judge into changing his mind. The judge's idealistic son, Jack (Kays), a loyal follower of Stark's, becomes concerned about Stark's intentions. He implores his father to make peace with Stark, but the judge remains adamant. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Jack's fiancee, Anne Stanton (Conwell). After the judge leaves, Anne berates Jack for neglecting her, warning that his inattention may jeopardize their relationship. Stark arrives and demands an interview with the judge. When Anne and Stark are left alone together, it becomes apparent that they are clandestine lovers. They make plans to meet later that night after a rally that is being held to support Stark. When the judge returns, Anne excuses herself, leaving the two men to confront each other. Despite Stark's efforts, the judge stands by his decision to endorse the governor's impeachment. He dismisses Stark, who resolves to blackmail the seemingly honorable judge. At the rally, before a spellbound crowd, Stark delivers an impassioned appeal for support.

Later, Stark holds a press conference in his office. After the reporters leave, his assistant, Sadie (Curtis), brings him documents that implicate Judge Burden (Garrard) in accepting a bribe. Jack (Kays), the judge's son, listens to the charges in disbelief and insists that his father is innocent. He and Duffy (Vosburgh), the lieutenant governor, rush off to verify the documents' authenticity. That evening, Stark proposes marriage to Jack's fiancee, Anne (Conwell), with whom he has been carrying on a clandestine affair. Tormented by her infidelity, Anne asks for time to consider the proposal. Duffy arrives and confirms the charges against the judge. Later that night, Anne accepts Stark's proposal and tells him that she has broken off her engagement to Jack. Sadie discovers Stark and Anne together and flies into a jealous rage. Stark ignores her and leaves to attend a rally on the steps of the Senate. Meanwhile, Jack confronts his father with the evidence of the bribery charges. The judge confesses and Jack leaves, deeply upset. Dreading public humiliation and scandal, the judge commits suicide. Later, Sadie commiserates with Jack about his father's death and unwittingly tells him about Anne's engagement to Stark. Shocked and wild with desperation, Jack runs off. At the rally, the crowd cheers when Stark emerges from the Senate with the news that the impeachment proceedings have been called off. Huddled in the crowd, Jack draws a gun and kills Stark. Stark's bodyguard, Sugarboy (Moulson), kills Jack in retaliation. The opera ends with Sugarboy carrying Stark's body through the stunned, silent crowd.

Details

  • NETWORK: PBS WNET New York, NY
  • DATE: September 28, 1981 Monday 8:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:01:00
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T89:0410
  • GENRE: Music
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Operas
  • SERIES RUN: PBS - TV series, 1974-
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

  • Jac Venza … Executive Producer
  • Sidney J. Palmer … Producer
  • Peter Weinberg … Producer
  • Brian Large … Director, Directed for television by
  • Prince, Harold (See also: Prince, Hal) … Director, Directed for the stage by
  • Carlisle Floyd … Composer, Librettist
  • Robert Penn Warren … Writer, Based on the novel by
  • John DeMain … Conductor
  • Houston Symphony Orchestra … Symphony Orchestra
  • Timothy Nolen … Singer, Cast, Willie Stark
  • Jan Curtis … Singer, Cast, Sadie Burke
  • Alan Kays … Singer, Cast, Jack Burden
  • Julia Conwell … Singer, Cast, Anne Stanton
  • Don Garrard … Singer, Cast, Judge Burden
  • Robert Moulson … Singer, Cast, Sugar Boy
  • David Vosburgh … Singer, Cast, Tiny Duffy
  • Lowell Thomas … Voice, Cast, The Radio Commentator
  • Lynn Grieblings … Singer, Cast, Mrs. Stark
  • WNET-TV (New York, NY)
  • Houston Grand Opera
Continue searching the Collection ➾