Tom Baker | The Gospel of the Red-Hot Stars

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Classical: Opera Avant Garde: Experimental Moods: Type: Experimental
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The Gospel of the Red-Hot Stars

by Tom Baker

A chamber opera in one act, based on texts by Margaret Atwood dealing with witch hunts in Puritan New England. Experimental but lyrical. Avant but accessible. A new kind of opera.
Genre: Classical: Opera
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Prelude
4:35 album only
2. The Virtuous Woman
2:34 album only
3. Rumor (7 PM)
4:07 album only
4. Psalm No. 3
2:53 album only
5. The Rope (8 PM)
2:06 album only
6. Interlude No. 1
1:37 album only
7. A Very Damnable Witchcraft
4:01 album only
8. The Bonnets (9 PM)
3:11 album only
9. Psalm No. 34
2:18 album only
10. Grace (10 PM)
5:08 album only
11. Psalm No. 42
4:12 album only
12. Prayer (Midnight)
3:23 album only
13. Interlude No. 2
4:26 album only
14. Despair (2 AM)
4:17 album only
15. The Death of Every Sin
3:52 album only
16. Nightbirds (3 AM)
5:57 album only
17. Psalm 136
2:17 album only
18. Interlude No. 3
1:50 album only
19. The Gospel of the Red-Hot Stars (6 AM)
5:42 album only


Album Notes
The Gospel of the Red-Hot Stars

An operatorio in one act
Tom Baker

Produced by Seattle EXperimental Opera (SEXO)

During the frenzy of the witch hunts in 17th century
Massachusetts, Mary Webster was accused and
convicted of witchcraft. According to several historical
accounts, she was hung from a tree and left all
night to die. When she was cut down the following
morning, the townspeople were shocked to find that
she had survived the hanging and was still alive.
The Gospel of the Red-Hot Stars recounts the story of
Mary’s fateful night on the tree.

Mary Webster – Maria Mannisto
Paul Karaitis – Cotton Mather

Will Dean
Liz O’Donoghue
Mark Johnson
Alissa Rupp

Julia Tai, conductor
Tom Swafford, violin
Jesse Canterbury, clarinet
Chris Stover, trombone
Tom Baker, guitar
Brian Cobb, bass
Greg Campbell, percussion

Recorded and mixed at Jack Straw Productions by Doug Haire
Mastered at Seattle Disc Mastering by Mark Guenther
CD Design by Mikiko Williams
Produced by Tom Baker for Present Sounds Recordings (
Present Sounds Recordings PS0801

Special thanks to Alissa Rupp, Doug Haire, Allison Van Dyck, Reed Nakayama, Toni Radonich, Greg Carter, The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, 4Culture, Artist Trust, and the Seattle EXperimental Opera.

Libretto, photos and other information at:

The poem “Half-Hanged Mary” is from the poetry collection Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood © 1995 Margaret Atwood, published in the U.S. by Houghton Mifflin. Adapted with permission of the author.



to write a review

Gilbert Gigliotti

A wonderful adaptation of its textual sources. I'd love to see a full production of it!

Marco Oppedisano

Tom Baker\'s GOSPEL OF THE RED-HOT STARS is truly magnificent and more and more rewarding with each listen. Yes, it is a new kind of opera and a kind that is truly refreshing to my ears. It is remarkable to how he is able to achieve such a dramatic effect with this intimate setting and instrumentation. The timing and pacing of the drama are portrayed by a composer who truly loves and respects the genre, all the while firmly establishing his own voice. Being familiar with Baker\'s music, his poignant restraint works its way masterfully with this heavy subject matter. This is remarkable to me. And his tonal language is accessible, yet highly sophisticated and never contrived.

The performance is fantastic and done with the utmost care and sensitivity. What also struck me was Baker\'s choral writing. He masterfully combines a variety of influences as I hear the unusual/amateur choral styling of early American hymnal writing (Billings?), Stravinsky, Ligeti\'s more \"playful\" avant-garde vocal works and the spaciousness of Feldman.

I am very glad he is getting this work out there for all to hear. Baker is also a fantastic guitarist with impeccable ensemble skills. This work further proves how talented the man is.

I highly recommend this fantastic CD!