Obituary: Composer Carlisle Floyd, 95

Posted on: October 1, 2021

“Composer Carlisle Floyd, widely viewed as a founding father of American opera, died Thursday at age 95 in Tallahassee, Fla,” writes Tom Huizenga in Thursday’s (9/30) National Public Radio. “His death was announced by his publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, which did not share the cause of his death. Floyd’s operas, which numbered more than a dozen, were steeped in southern culture, examining the post-Civil War South, the Great Depression and small-town life. Works such as Susannah, Of Mice and Men and Cold Sassy Tree opened opera houses to a distinctly American repertoire. He also wrote his own librettos…. Floyd was only 28 years old when Susannah debuted in Tallahassee in 1955…. Susannah, set in the south and based on a Biblical story, was serious musical theatre. But the late soprano Phyllis Curtin, who created the opera’s title role, said that not everyone thought so at the time. ‘Carlisle’s opera was largely being called, by all kinds of people, a folk opera,’ she [said] in 2008…. ‘Ain’t it a Pretty Night,’ the show-stopping aria from Susannah … has been sung by countless sopranos…. Floyd was given many awards during his lifetime, including a Guggenheim fellowship in 1956, the National Medal of Arts in 2004 and a National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honor in 2008.”