April 24, 1981 | Houston Grand Opera
Willie Stark
Composer:Carlisle Floyd
Librettist:Carlisle Floyd
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.

Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)

Number of Acts

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.

Vocal & Musical Forces
Chorus, full orchestra, large cast

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)

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