Tragic legend returns to public TV, retold this time as an opera

A local tale from Fayette, Maine, that came to public TV seven years ago in an American Experience documentary will return next year as an opera on Great Performances. The musical retelling will be taped later this week during the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s new opera, Emmeline, at the Santa Fe Opera. [The premiere received more than its share of rave reviews, using words like “sensational” and “a triumph.” Great Performances’ version aired April 2, 1997 on many stations.]

“I’m very happy that it’s coming full circle,” says Picker. “It shows that public television is so important, because it’s capable of generating art.”

Arts on public television: signatures of past, present and generations to come

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein wowed a lunchtime audience at the Public Television Annual Meeting in June 1994 with her personal testimonial for public TV, relating her experience in terms far more vivid than the bland, generic phrases usually used to describe and defend the medium. Wasserstein received the Pulitizer as well as a Tony and other awards for her play The Heidi Chronicles in 1989. From the podium at the PBS conference, Wasserstein looked out on a vast dark room full of noshing broadcasters … When WNET invited me to speak to this intimate little luncheon in Orlando today, I jumped on a plane because I had nightmare visions of an imminent merger, and Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse hosting the MacNeil/Lehrer Report and Charlie Rose opening his show by singing, “Be my guest, be my guest . .