The 2001 world premier production of "The Coronation of Esther" by the North Cambridge Family Opera Company was performed by three different casts. We have recorded and created a CD for each cast, and these CDs are now available for purchase. The MP3 recordings below allow you to preview the entire opera at modest fidelity.
Overture and Men's Party - The opera opens in Shushan, a city in ancient Persia to which King Ahashveros has just moved the seat of government of his vast empire. To celebrate, the King has held a six-month long party culminating in a week-long feast for the entire population of Shushan. The King entertains the rowdy male population who sing in praise of his extravagance.
Women's Party - Meanwhile the beautiful but modest Queen Vashti entertains the women of Shushan in a more subdued gathering.
Men's Party II - The King's chamberlains Bizzetha and Mehuman ask for silence as the King rises and addresses the men of Shushan.
The Best - In his wine-induced exuberance, the King boasts to the crowd of his many possessions and of Vashti's beauty.
The King's Command - The King sends Mehuman to instruct Vashti to come and disrobe before the men of Shushan. The men are excited by the King's command, but the women are dismayed.
If I Perish - Vashti faces a difficult choice between remaining true to her modesty and obeying the King.
Ocean of Love - Vashti's love song to King Ahashveros
The King's Rage - Vashti refuses the King's command, and the enraged Ahashveros orders Memucan, his Grand Vizier, to devise a suitable punishment.
Memucan's Wisdom - Memucan advises the King to irrevocably banish Vashti and to confiscate all her possessions.
Banishment - The King agrees to Memucan's proposal and banishes Vashti, to the astonishment of the citizens of Shushan.
I Miss Her - Some months later, Ahashveros regrets the banishment of his favorite wife.
Plan B - The King seeks to blame Memucan for the banishment of Vashti. Memucan suggests that a contest be held to find a replacement for Vashti. All the fairest maidens in the Persian empire would be collected and placed under the care of Hegai, the keeper of the King's women. Then each evening, Ahashveros would interview one of the candidates until dawn, until he has gone through them all or until he finds one to make his queen. The King says he will let Memucan live if the plan allows him to find a woman who can replace Vashti.
King's Gate - Mordechai, a Jew in Shushan with political ambitions, has raised his orphaned cousin Esther from infancy, and she is now a beautiful young woman. He has given her to Memucan in hopes of currying favor with the Grand Vizier and gaining access in the palace. Mordechai extols the strategic value of being seen at the King's Gate.
King's Gate Chorus - The other citizens at the King's Gate echo Mordechai's sentiments.
Tryst - Mordechai secretly meets with Esther to discuss life in the palace and her prospects for becoming queen.
Come Away - Esther has become Hegai's favorite, and when he sees Esther standing at the window of the palace, he leads her away and expresses his affection for her.
What to Wear - When it's Esther's turn to see the King, Hegai advises her to dress elaborately for him, as the other interviewees have done.
No Fury - Monica, the previous candidate for Queen, emerges from her interview livid over having been rejected.
Plain White Dress - Esther chooses to wear only a plain white dress for her interview. Esther's beauty and modest dress reminds the King of Vashti, and he selects her to be his new queen.
The Coronation - Esther is crowned, and all the Persians celebrate.