The only major American opera set in Appalachia will be performed this weekend at Opera Roanoke. It’s called, “Susannah” and it evokes the beauty of the region in all its summer-time glory. Even though it was written in the 1950s, the story of its strong female lead facing down the establishment, resonates with the political power struggles of today.
Robbie Harris has more.
Carlisle Floyd wrote the opera, called “Susannah “during the McCarthy Era as a social commentary on the evils of a mob mentality.
Nancy Harder teaches music and is Assistant Conductor at Opera Roanoke. She says of the work,
“It’s really this exploration of what happens when a group of individuals ends up suppressing what’s beautiful and individual and innocent and diverse in their community,” she says.
Harder also notes the beauty of Appalachian themed music and its timeless story.
“So whether it’s McCarthyism and Communists or right now with immigrants, there’s this sense that you can somehow find an answer to a struggling society when in actuality, it’s not really that easy,” says Harder.
The roll of Susannah is being sung by Virginia Tech alumna, Danielle Talamantes ,who has also sung at the Metropolitan Opera. The Met’s Steven White, is conducting. Artistic Director Scott Williamson directs.
Zachary James will sing the role of Olin Blitch, a traveling evangelist. Making his Opera Roanoke debut, Matthew Vickers will sing the role of Sam Polk, Susannah’s misunderstood brother.
The production will include special video projections by Dongsoo Choi, another Virginia Tech graduate, in collaboration with the Institute for Creative Arts and Technology, The School of Visual Arts and the Moss Arts Center in Blacksburg.
Friday April 28th at 7:30
Sunday April 30th at 3:00.