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ford's theatre: an american tragedy in two, brief acts

In brief, Ford’s Theatre is an opera that traces the journey of two lugubrious figures often cast aside in the sands of history; Mary Todd and Robert Lincoln, wife and son of the famed American President. The story follows the final seventeen years of Mary’s life immediately after the death of her husband until her own untimely passing in 1882. Robert, after observing Mary’s erratic behavior following the assassination, has no choice but to institutionalize his mother for her own safety. Ford’s displays the decay of Mary Todd’s mental stability during her time at Bellevue Place Asylum under the care of the dubious (?) Dr. Richard J. Patterson. However, the timeline of events in the opera has been purposefully reorganized to add a new psychological abstraction to the work, further deepening our connection with Mary’s failing psyche; allowing the audience to first observe Mary and Robert’s fate and then be lead through the journey of how they arrived there. 


Ford's Theatre received two partial performances in Indianapolis, IN and Hartford, CT,  but at present time has not been performed in its entirety. A large portion of the work was performed unstaged, with full orchestra in April 2012 conducted by the composer at Butler University. Hartford Opera Theater performed excerpts in a staged production as part of the organization's New in November series




Scene V. "They Say" 






As part of the writing process of Ford's Theatre, I was extremely fortunate to be invited by the Batavia Historical Society to visit their museum exhibit in Batavia, IL featuring a vast collection of Mary's belongings. Their exhibition space was less than a mile away from the actual site of Bellevue Place (where Mary was committed) and ripe for inspiration. 



If your organization or ensemble have interest

in hearing more about Ford's Theatre 

or renting performance materials,

please contact Matthew Kennedy

for more information.


Print of Original Photo by William Mumler, 1872

Photo Credit: Matthew Kennedy, 2010

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