The Postman Always Rings Twice (opera)

The Postman Always Rings Twice is a 1982 opera with a libretto written by Colin Graham and music by Stephen Paulus, based on the 1934 novel by James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice.

The Postman Always Rings Twice
Opera by Stephen Paulus
The composer
LibrettistColin Graham
Based onThe Postman Always Rings Twice
by James M. Cain

The opera was the first of four commissioned from Paulus by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. It opened to generally strong reviews, and prompted the critic from the New York Times, in an otherwise mixed notice, to call Paulus "a young man on the road to big things".[1]

The opera has since been performed numerous times around the world, and Paulus composed eight more operas before his death in 2014.


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 17 June 1982[2]
(Conductor: C. William Harwood)
Cora soprano Kathryn Bouleyn
Katz tenor Carroll Freeman
Nick tenor Michael Myers
Kennedy baritone David Evitts
1st Cop baritone David Evitts
2nd Cop bass-baritone Stephen Morton
Frank Chambers David Parsons
Sackett bass Daniel Sullivan


The story is of a drifter, Frank, who stops at a rural diner for a meal and ends up working there. The diner is operated by a young, beautiful woman, Cora, and her much older husband, Nick. Frank and Cora have an affair. Cora and Frank scheme to murder Nick to start a new life together without her losing the diner. Their first attempt at the murder is a failure, but they eventually succeed.


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