From the Glimmerglass Festival website:
Arthur Miller's chilling dramatization of the Salem Witch Trials (an allegory of McCarthyism), is the basis for Robert Ward's Pulitzer Prize-winning opera.
"The mass hysteria that culminated in the Salem Witch Trials was not, unfortunately, an aberration. Throughout history we have seen how, in a climate of fear and mistrust, innuendo can take on the force of fact, resulting in the persecution of innocent people. Arthur Miller dramatized the 17th-century trials when he saw history repeating itself during the ‘Red Scare’ of the 1950s. It is not a pretty story, but it’s an important one – I think it’s important for us to remind ourselves that an accumulation of seemingly minor words and actions can take society to a point of no return." -- Francesca Zambello, director