In Carlisle Floyd’s powerful opera Susannah, a beautiful and virtuous 18-year-old girl has inadvertently incited the lust of her church elders. The church leaders accuse her of being a seductress, and the entire town turns against her. When the new pastor, Reverend Blitch, urges her to repent her alleged sins, she refuses, inflaming the reverend’s own desires – with disastrous consequences. Based on the biblical story “Susannah and the Elders,” this 1954 opera is set in rural Tennessee and is rich with Appalachian folk melodies and connections to the McCarthy era in which it was written.

Friday, March 13, 2020 | 7:30 PM & Sunday, March 15, 2020 | 3 PM
Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts | 801 Chase Street, Annapolis, MD

  • Connie Coffelt Mrs. Hayes
  • Kate Jackman
    Mrs. Ott

  • The Story of Susannah
    Saturday, February 15, 2020 | 3 PM
    Maryland Hall, Room 308

    Maestro Ronald J. Gretz will explore the history of the opera in performance and how it came to be written. He will introduce the major musical themes that appear throughout Susannah, and will illuminate composer Carlisle Floyd’s musical artistry, which gives the opera its power.


    The Culture and Music of Susannah’s Appalachia
    Saturday, February 29, 2020 | 3 PM
    Maryland Hall, Room 308
    Reservations required – only 80 seats available! Click here to reserve your seat.

    Jeff Place has been at the Smithsonian Institution’s Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections since 1988 and is a Curator and Senior Archivist for the Smithsonian folklife collections. He will examine the complex Appalachian culture, the impact of itinerant preachers once called “circuit riders,” and the music, such as plainsong, common in the religion.


    Pre-Performance Talk: Susannah – An American Tragedy
    Friday, March 13, 2020 at 6:15 PM | Click here to reserve your seat!
    Sunday, March 15, 2020 at 1:45 PM | Click here to reserve your seat!
    Maryland Hall, Room 308
    Reservations required – only 80 seats available! 

    Nancie Kennedy, a retired opera singer, shares her experience of performing in a 1980 production of Susannah directed by the composer/librettist Carlisle Floyd himself. Discover not only the story, setting, characters, and powerful music of this award-winning opera, but also how, when and why Floyd transformed an ancient Biblical tale into a 20th century American classic set in isolated Appalachia.