Opera in America

by Athena Cocoves

While Susannah is not your typical performance, its tradition as an American opera is well established. In 1955, a 24-year-old composer, Carlisle Floyd, combined operatic and appalachian-folk traditions for the world premier of his first opera, Susannah. 

“In a sense, Susannah is the American Opera,” said Robert Mirakian, Assistant Director of Toledo Opera and Stage Manager for Susannah. “One of the reasons we are doing this show is to give people something newer.”

In Susannah’s revolutionary style, The Toledo Opera will change their routine with exciting additions. A projection screen will be used as part of  the fast-paced opera with short acts and frequent scene changes. The orchestra will be on stage and the the singing will all happen close to the front of the stage, providing an intimate performance. 

The famous Samuel Ramey will appear in a role he has mastered with dozens of performances, including the 1999 The Metropolitan Opera premiere.  Sean Cooper—a Toledo Opera mainstay—will take over for his directorial debut.

In addition, Jennifer Cooper, a Bowling Green resident and Sean’s wife, will grace the stage as Susannah. “The role is personal to me. I grew up in Tennessee and I relate to Susannah’s thoughts of getting out,” Cooper reflected. “I connect to her hopefulness.” 

Both opera aficionados and those unacquainted, or even skeptical, will enjoy the performances. 

 “It’s just really good music… it is the American opera,” said Mirakian. 

Tickets start at $30. 7:30pm Friday, February 13. 2pm Sunday, February 15. Valentine Theatre, 410 Adams St. 419-255-SING (7646).  toledoopera.org

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