'An American Tragedy' on the Opera Stage

A scene from 'An American Tragedy' i

Patricia Racette as Roberta, Nathan Gunn as Clyde and (in enlargement) Susan Graham as Sondra in the world premiere of Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy. Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera hide caption

itoggle caption Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
A scene from 'An American Tragedy'

Patricia Racette as Roberta, Nathan Gunn as Clyde and (in enlargement) Susan Graham as Sondra in the world premiere of Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy.

Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
'A Place In The Sun' movie poster

A Place In The Sun, a movie based on the 1906 murder at Big Moose Lake, won six Oscars in 1951, including best director and best screenplay. It starred Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor. hide caption

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The story of Chester Gillette and the murder of Grace Brown in a remote lake in the Adirondack Mountains is the centerpiece of Theodore Dreiser's novel An American Tragedy. This was the O.J. Simpson trial of its day. An opera version of the story premieres in New York Friday.

In the summer of 1906, Gillette took his pregnant girlfriend boating on a lake in New York's Adirondack Mountains. The next day, Brown's body was found floating in a secluded cove. Gillette tried to flee, but was captured and tried for murder.

The case sparked a media frenzy and made headlines around the world. As North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann reports, over the last century it has become a part of American mythology.

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