The Reconciliation

A Comic Chamber Opera in Two Acts
Music by John Craton
Libretto by Peter Markoe

The Reconciliation, or The Triumph of Nature is one of the first ballad operas written by an American, Peter Markoe, in 1790. Along with Andrew Barton’s The Disappointment, the comic opera was accepted by a Philadelphia theater but was never produced. As was traditional for the period, the author composed the libretto with indications for the popular song tunes to be used for the various musical numbers, but no music was actually composed. This version is a free reconstruction of the work, utilizing as many authentic song tunes as could be found but also requiring original material for those that appear to be no longer extant. The score calls for a small orchestra as might have been used in an eighteenth-century American theater, and the music is constructed in a style evocative of the period, though with some adaptations to appeal more to modern audiences.

Of the song tunes called for in the libretto, the following were adapted from the original sources:

“Why Sleeps the Thunder in the Skies?” set to “The Birks of Invermay”
“Since Falsehood Triumphantly Reigns” set to “The Old Woman Clothed in Grey”
“When Misfortune Sorely Presses” set to “If ’Tis Joy to Wound a Lover”
“Dear Grand-papa” set to “The Babes in the Woods”
“If She May Be So Bold, Sir” set to “Good Morning to Your Night-cap” (the last being freely adapted as none of the examples found accurately fit the words in the libretto)
The remaining musical selections are newly composed but are hopefully representative of the tunes that might have been used at the time.

Technical Information


Wilson Senior
William, his son
Simon, a servant

Amelia, wife of Wilson
Deborah, a servant

2 Flutes, Oboe, Bassoon, Violins I & II, Violas, Violoncellos

A lawn before a cottage.

Approximately 1½ hours; musical segments constitute about 25 minutes.

Difficulty Level:
Moderate, so as to be accessible to amateur ensembles.


Wilson and his wife Amelia have fallen on desperate times due largely to Wilson Sr.’s having disowned his son for marrying Amelia. Despite their dire financial straits, Wilson, Amelia, and their son William are the embodiment of honesty and integrity. So revered are they that their servant Simon robs an elderly traveler as he passes near the village in order to help buy food for the family. When Simon brings the small fortune he has acquired to Wilson, despite Simon’s fanciful tale of having been given the sum by a wealthy benefactor Wilson suspects something less noble in his servant’s actions. Wilson manages to convince Simon to confess his crime, and when the selfsame gentleman whom he had robbed happens by Simon fears he is soon to be hung for his efforts. As it transpires, the gentleman is in fact Wilson’s father who had set out to find his long lost son to apologize for the way he had treated him in the past and to restore to him his rightful inheritance. The story ends with a reconciliation between the two Wilsons and the younger Wilson’s family. Simon also is reconciled to the female servant Deborah who has secretly loved him for some long time. The finale concludes with a chorus in praise of uprightness and offers hope for the future of the new nation.

Opera Website Libretto Audio Samples

Return to index or Contact the composer