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from the opera Captivation of Eunice Williams

Captivation of Eunice Williams

A new opera based on an extraordinary true story from colonial America

Music by Paula M. Kimper, Libretto by Harley Erdman

Co-Conceived by Linda McInerney

Commissioned by Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association and the International Music & Art Foundation

World Premiere: Deerfield Academy, July 2004, Reid Theater, Deerfield, MA

For 10-piece chamber orchestra; ten principals; chorus


On February 29, 1704, the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts was attacked by an army of French Canadians and Native Americans. 112 Puritan English Colonists were captured and marched north through the snows to various sites near Montreal. Among the captives was Eunice Williams, a young girl of seven years.  She was adopted by a Mohawk family in a Jesuit mission known as Kahnawake. While the rest of her family was ransomed over the next several years, Eunice refused to return to Deerfield.  She married a Iroquois man and spent the rest of her life in Kahnawake. In her 40’s, as a Mohawk wife and mother, she journeyed back to Massachusetts to visit her long lost brother and sister.  The original cast was: Adult Eunice, Elaine Valby; Teenage Eunice, Emily Ogden; Child Eunice, Susannah Lowery; Kariwiióstha’, Christina Gagnon; John Williams, Bert K. Johnson; Eunice’s mother, Yvonne Field; Esther Williams, Hillarie O’Toole; Stephen Williams, Alan Schneider; Aró:sen, J. Salvi; Bruno Magog, Dan Popowich

Charaters (in order of vocal appearance):

  • Kariwiióstha’ - mezzo-soprano
  • Bruno Magog – spoken
  • John Williamsbass
  • Eunice’s mothercontralto
  • Esther Williamssoprano
  • Child Eunice - mezzo-soprano
  • Stephen Williams - tenor
  • Teenage Eunicesoprano
  • Aró:senbaritone
  • Adult Eunice - mezzo-soprano

Chorus: Puritans, Mohawks, French

Performance History:

Albanian National Theater, Skopje, Macedonia (2008)

Ohrid Festival: Ohrid, Struga, Tetova, Macedonia (2008)

National Museum of the American Indian, D.C. (2006)

Kahnawake Mohawk Nation (2005)

The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown, NY (2004)

World Premiere, Reid Theatre, Deerfield, MA (2004)

Choral Suite, Pioneer Vally Symphony & Chorus, Northampton, MA (2004)

Development, UMASS Amherst (2003-2004)




Piano/Vocal Score

Choral Suite

Orchestra Score

CD of World Premiere

Excerpt CD of World Premiere

DVD of World Premiere

Promo DVD

“….this is about the most powerful force in the universe, that force is love…we should not forget these things.”  – ktv Special about CAPTIVATION

For more about Harley Erdman please visit:



Patience & Sarah –  The Bridge of San Luis Rey –  TRUTH


  1. Hello,

    I am a PhD student at the University of Connecticut and have been working on research on Eunice Williams for a course this semester. I am interested in viewing the opera as well as seeing the libretto, but have thus far not had any luck in finding it. Do you have any suggestions for places I might be able to find the DVD and a copy of the libretto, as well as any other related materials? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Meghan Burns

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