Company:Pacific Opera Project
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performance datesmatinee
Saturday, November 7, 2020
Sunday, November 8, 2020
Friday, November 13, 2020
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Composer: Carlisle Floyd

Librettist: Carlisle Floyd, Carlisle Floyd
In New Hope Valley, Tennessee, Susannah – a pretty and well-mannered young woman of humble origins – is faced with hostility from her church community. The opera opens at a square dance given by her church; a group of wives, jealous of Susannah’s beauty and the attention it brings from their husbands, are gossiping about her. Mrs. McLean, one of the wives, states that you can’t expect more from someone who was raised by her drunken brother. Finally, the Reverend Olin Blitch, newly arrived to lead the congregation, enters and asks Susannah to dance despite the gossip. Later that evening, Susannah tells her admirer Little Bat – son of Mrs. McLean and her husband, an elder of the church – about the dance; Little Bat leaves abruptly once her brother Sam returns from hunting.

The next morning Susannah is innocently bathing naked in the creek near her home; she is discovered by the elders, who are searching for a baptismal stream. They conceal their lust with outrage and tell the community of her wickedness. Susannah arrives at a church dinner that evening and is sent away, much to her confusion. Later, as she is pondering why she has been shunned, Little Bat tells her that the elders have denounced her for bathing in the nude, and admits that he was coerced into saying she seduced him.

Sam informs Susannah that she must make a public confession in order to be absolved. Though she claims she has nothing to confess, she goes to the service where Olin Blitch is preaching. When she is singled out to come forward, she runs away. Once the service has ended, Reverend Blitch goes to Susannah’s house and offers to pray for her soul; upon discovering that her brother is away, Blitch rapes her.

The next day Blitch, having discovered that Susannah was a virgin, comes to her and begs for forgiveness. He throws herself at Susannah’s mercy, but she refuses to forgive him. When Susannah tells Sam the story he threatens to kill Blitch; he leaves for the baptismal service, carrying his shotgun. Convinced that Susannah led her brother to murder, the community heads to her house to drive her out of the valley. However, Little Bat has warned her in advance, and when the vigilantes arrive she is waiting with a shotgun. They retreat, but she has effectively severed her ties with the community and her world.

Courtesy of Boosey & Hawkes

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TitleComposerOpening Night
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Pacific Opera ProjectSusannahFloydNovember 2020
Opera Theatre of Saint LouisSusannahFloydJune 2020
Annapolis OperaSusannahFloydMarch 2020
Manitoba OperaSusannahFloydNovember 2019
The Lighthouse Opera CompanySusannahFloydSeptember 2018
Nashville OperaSusannahFloydApril 2018
Opera in the OzarksSusannahFloydJune 2017
Opera RoanokeSusannahFloydApril 2017
Toledo OperaSusannahFloydFebruary 2015
San Francisco OperaSusannahFloydSeptember 2014
Florentine Opera CompanySusannahFloydMarch 2012
Des Moines Metro OperaSusannahFloydJuly 2010
Opera PacificSusannahFloydMay 2008
Arizona OperaSusannahFloydApril 2007
Virginia OperaSusannahFloydNovember 2006
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