Willie Stark
Composer: Carlisle Floyd
Composer Bio: Composer, librettist, pianist, and teacher Carlisle Floyd has written operas for many of America’s cherished stories, basing much of his subject matter on Southern themes. Born in the Southern Bible Belt of Latta, South Carolina, he grew up in the thick of traveling preachers, revival meetings, and a close knit religious community, though at a young age was aware of that world’s controversial and hypocritical nature. Floyd’s primary teacher was pianist Ernst Bacon whom he followed from South Carolina to Syracuse University in New York where he earned a Bachelor and a Master of Music. He immediately joined the piano faculty of Florida State University where he began exploring an interest in composition, writing both the libretti and the music for operas with a distinctly American voice. He achieved national recognition with Susanna, which premiered at Florida State University in 1955.

Today Carlisle Floyd’s operas are performed throughout America and Europe and Susanna and Of Mice and Men have become standard repertoire. Floyd was one of eight recipients of the National Medal of Arts in 2004. He is also the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Citation of Merit from the National Association of American Conductors and Composers and the National Opera Institute’s Award for Service to American Opera. In 2008, Floyd was the only composer to be included in the inaugural National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors.
Librettist: Carlisle Floyd
Other Artistic Personnel: John DeMain (Conductor)
Harold Prince (Director)
Original Cast: Timothy Nolen (Willie Stark)
Jan Curtis (Sadie Burke)
Alan Kays (Jack Burden)
Lowell Thomas (Radio Commentator)
Graydon Vaught (Reporter)
David Vosburgh (Tiny Duffy)
Don Garrard (Judge Burden)
Julia Conwell (Anne Stanton)
Lisa de la Reza (Lucy Stark)
Lynn Griebling (Mrs. Stark)
Work Web Site: http://www.boosey.com/pages/opera/moreDetails.asp?
Premiere Date: April 24, 1981
Producing Company: Houston Grand Opera
Description: Set in 1935, in a state capital in the deep south, the opera condenses the novel into a span of ten days, tracing events leading up to the impeachment proceedings of the governor, Willie Stark (mirrored after Huey Long). Stark, a populist governor with a flair for demagoguery, will do almost anything to fend off his political enemies. Judge Burden, the father of one of Stark's idealistic and supportive aides, Jack, plans to come out publicly in favor of impeachment. Stark also begins having a furtive affair with Anne Stanton, Jack's fiance. Stark rallies popular support for himself and soon finds evidence of past misconduct on the Judge's part. Jack confronts his father, who admits the charges of past bribery. Jack gives his father a choice: either withdraw his support of impeachment or have an incriminating letter published. The Judge, backed into a corner and all alone, shoots himself. Several days later, Jack, distraught over his father's death, is told that Stark and Anne are planning to marry. Stunned by this news, the aide attends a victory speech given by the governor, steps out of the crowd, and mortally wounds Willie. Jack is instantly killed in retaliation.
Character List (Major): WILLIE STARK, Governor (bar)
SADIE BURKE, Stark's administrative assistant (mz)
HUGH, another Senator (speaking role or Baritone)
SUGAR BOY, bodyguard to Willie Stark (t)
"TINY" DUFFY, Lieutenant-Governor (t)
JACK BURDEN, aide to Willie Stark (t)
JEFF, a Senator (t)
Character List (Minor): MRS. STARK, Willie Stark's mother (s)
LUCY, Willie Stark's daughter (s)
GEORGE WILLIAM, Judge Burden's old black butler (speaking role)
MAYOR (speaking role)
Radio Announcer (spoken and pre-recorded)
Reporter (speaking role)
Reviews: Opera Canada, Fall 1981, p. 36; Opera, 9-81, p. 939; Opera News, 8-81, p. 30; Opera Journal, 9-81, p. 39; Musical America, 2-82, p. 15; Opera News, 1-18-86, p. 39; Opera, 2-86, p. 186; The New York Times, Peter G. Davis, 1-15-81; The New Yorker, Andrew Porter, 4-5-82; Newsweek, 5-11-81; The New York Times, Donal Henahan, 4-27-81; The New York Times, John Duka, 9-27-81; The New York Times, John J. O'Connor, 9-28-81;
Length: 02:20
Total Acts: 3
Chorus: Chorus
Orchestration: 2 fl(II=picc), 2 ob(II=corA), 2 cl(II=bcl), 2 bsn - 2 hrn, 2 tpt, 2 tbn, 1 tba - timp, perc(3):xyl/glsp/vib/SD/TD/BD/crash cyms/susp.cym/gong/ant.cym/bell tree/tamb/anvil/maracas/tpl, bl - harp - cel - strings
Ballet/Dance: Mime
Musical Style: Traditional means, such as leitmotif, singspiel, and traditional arias with connective recitative are incorporated with strong folk and jazz elements into a basically lyrical framework.
Contact: Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.
Address: 229 W 28th Street, Floor 11
New York, NY 10001
E-mail Address: composers.us@boosey.com
Phone: 212-358-5300
Publisher Web Site: http://www.boosey.com
Schedule of Performances Listings
Willie Stark (Floyd)
Friday, March 23, 2007 - Louisiana State University Opera
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212.796.8620 • Fax: 212.796.8621

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