Visitation, The [Die Heimsuchung]
- James P. Cassaro
Opera in three acts by Gunther Schuller to his own libretto after Franz Kafka’s novel Der Prozess; Hamburg, Staatsoper, 12 October 1966.
Carter Jones (baritone), a black student, is persecuted by the white citizens of a small town. As the opera begins, Jones daydreams about events in the history of his race: a ‘coloured’ Baptist church service of the 1880s and early 19th-century slave auctions. His visions are interrupted by the entrance of three white men who threaten and interrogate him and advise him to stay out of trouble. After a brief but unconsummated flirtation with his white neighbour Miss Hampton (soprano), Jones is summoned before an impromptu tribunal, accused of aspiring to the rights that belong only to whites. The court wants to hang him but is interrupted before the sentence can be carried out. Jones, disillusioned, seeks help from several sources, but to no avail. Not even the Church can provide him with solace from persecution. In the end, Jones, badly beaten, is taken to a remote area and brutally murdered....