Virginia Opera to Present ‘Susannah’ at Center for the Arts

Posted: November 16, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Susannah poster

Virginia Opera adds Carlisle Floyd’s 20th-century American opera “Susannah” to its repertoire, with performances at Mason’s Center for the Arts in Fairfax on Friday, Dec. 1, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 3, at 2 p.m.

On Friday evening, a free wine and cheese tasting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the lobby.

Floyd’s homespun folk opera — set close to home for Virginians in New Hope Valley, Tenn. — poignantly addresses societal issues still relevant today, as the story of a beautiful and innocent young woman, undeservedly victimized and persecuted by her town’s religious zealots, unfolds.

“The rights to privacy, purity and property are some very American values that are confirmed in this modern masterpiece, which has profound and increasing resonance,” says Virginia Opera Artistic Director Peter Mark.

“With the ingenious incorporation of square dances and revival hymns, and skillful imitation of Appalachian ballads, folk songs and fiddling in a production with a running time of less than two hours, ‘Susannah’ will have appeal for contemporary and traditional audiences,” continues Mark. “It is a work that every American should see.”

Making her company debut in the title role is soprano Lillian Sengpiehl, who just performed the role for the Scandinavian National Premiere of “Susannah” in April.

Tenor Patrick Miller makes his company debut as Susannah’s brother Sam Polk. As itinerant preacher Olin Blitch, Virginia Opera welcomes returning bass-baritone Marc Embree, last seen as Wotan in the company’s 2003 Virginia Premiere of “Die Walküre.”

Broadway stage director Dorothy Danner, who directed this season’s opening production of “Carmen,” returns to stage “Susannah” on a new set conceptualized by scenic designer Erhard Rom. Virginia Opera Assistant Artistic Director and Associate Conductor Joseph Walsh conducts all performances.

The production is sung in English with Digitext SuperTitles projected above the stage.

Pre-performance discussions, free to ticket holders, are held 45 minutes prior to each curtain on the hall’s Grand Tier.

Tickets are $86, $72 and $44 on Friday and $90, $76 and $48 on Sunday. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit

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