Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Carlisle Floyd on Susannah

APOCRYPHA WATCH: Carlisle Floyd discusses the narrative dimension of opera
(Stephen Smoliar, The Examiner).
Yesterday evening San Francisco Opera (SFO) presented the first Insight Panel of the its 2014–15 season. The Panel was hosted by Jon Finck, Director of Communications and Public Affairs; and the topic was the company premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s 1955 opera Susannah. What made this a particularly special occasion was that Floyd himself, who turned 88 last June, was on hand to participate, along with SFO General Director David Gockley, soprano Patricia Racette (who will be singing the title role), stage director Michael Cavanagh, and conductor Karen Kamensek.

As I have previously observed, Floyd wrote his own libretto for Susannah and did the same for all of his later operas. While the story is loosely based on an episode in the Biblical apocrypha originally associated with the Book of Daniel, Floyd was actually inspired by a Renaissance painting of that portion of the story in which the elders are spying on Susannah while she was bathing. Floyd’s libretto “Americanized” the tale, setting it in the mountain town of New Hope Valley, Tennessee.

Susannah will be playing in San Francisco starting Saturday. Past performances are noted here and links.