Creating the southern voice in American opera composition

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Scott R. MacLeod (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Carla LeFevre

Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation is to determine possible compositional trends in contemporary American operas based on Southern librettos, through an analysis of three operas: Carlisle Floyd's Cold Sassy Tree (2000), based on the story by Olive Ann Burns; Lee Hoiby's Summer and Smoke (1971), based on the play by Tennessee Williams; and Marc Blitzstein's Regina (1954), based on Lillian Hellman's play The Little Foxes. These operas were specifically chosen because of their similarities in setting, including period and location. When possible, living composers were interviewed as primary sources. Emergent characteristics include extensive use of blues and folk styles, recreations of Southern musical forms, and text setting that mimics characteristics of the Southern accent. All three operas utilize wide vocal range, languid tempo, and rounded vocal lines in their characterization of female Southern charm. Depictions of race and class also influence compositional choices, in that rural and lower class characters are often assigned folk styles, while upper class characters are more often represented with European musical traits. This analysis provides a basis for identifying recurrent themes in the Southern opera genre.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Blitzstein, Composition, Floyd, Hoiby, Opera, Southern
Operas $z Southern States
Floyd, Carlisle. $t Cold Sassy Tree
Hoiby, Lee. $t Summer and smoke
Blitzstein, Marc. $t Regina

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