When CCM staged Carlisle Floyd’s opera Of Mice and Men last May, the composer was on hand for opening night. He was so impressed that when opera department head Robin Guarino asked him to return to work with students he immediately accepted.
The dean of American opera composers arrived in Cincinnati Nov. 10 to begin coaching sessions with CCM students, culminating in a performance of excerpts from Floyd’s operas Wednesday in CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theater. His best-known works, Susannah and Of Mice and Men, are now standard repertoire, but CCM’s program will feature selections from works composed over a 50-year span and virtually unknown to American audiences.
“I just figured this kind of programming would cover more territory and give more students a chance to perform,” says Floyd, who is widely sought after as a coach and master teacher.
The music might be unfamiliar but the stories have special resonance for American audiences.
With the exception of Wuthering Heights (1958), Floyd’s operas draw on American source material, spanning American history from the Salem witch trials to small-town politics in Cold Sassy Tree. Floyd is particularly fond of Bilby’s Doll (1975), the story of a young girl coming to terms with her own spirituality in Puritan New England.
An Evening with Carlisle Floyd, with pianist George Darden accompanying, takes place at 7 p.m. Wednesday at CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theater on the University of Cincinnati campus. Go here to read Anne Arenstein's full interview with Floyd.