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May 26, 1893

Vassar students presented the first American performances in the original Greek of Sophocles’s Antigone, under the auspices of the Greek department. Two performances of the production, conceived and directed by Professor Abby Leach ’85 with the assistance of voice and musical coach Max Dessauer, were given in the Collingwood Opera House.

The production drew advance coverage from The New York Times, which said of the players and the production: “…they have at last realized the expectations of their ‘coachers.’ For months they have carefully practiced their parts and mastered every incidental detail. The result will be an entertainment entirely unprecedented in its way in this country.”

Careful attention was paid to the authenticity of the staging and costumes and to the adaptation of the Greek to the music of Mendelsohn. Franklin Haven Sargent, founder of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, assisted in the training of the principal players, and the orchestra for the production was drawn from the leading players in the New York City concert bands of Walter Damrosh and Anton Seidl.

Nearly four-dozen students were in the cast, which also included President Taylor’s son, Morgan, as one of the “attendants.” Classicists from several Eastern colleges and universities attended the sold-out performances, including seven from Harvard and three each from Yale and Columbia. A special train returned audience members to the city after the evening performance.

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