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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
North American Works Directory Listing
The Passion of Jonathan Wade
Carlisle Floyd
Composer, librettist, pianist, and teacher Carlisle Floyd has written operas for many of America’s cherished stories, basing much of his subject matter on Southern themes. Born in the Southern Bible Belt of Latta, South Carolina, he grew up in the thick of traveling preachers, revival meetings, and a close knit religious community, though at a young age was aware of that world’s controversial and hypocritical nature. Floyd’s primary teacher was pianist Ernst Bacon whom he followed from South Carolina to Syracuse University in New York where he earned a Bachelor and a Master of Music. He immediately joined the piano faculty of Florida State University where he began exploring an interest in composition, writing both the libretti and the music for operas with a distinctly American voice. He achieved national recognition with Susanna, which premiered at Florida State University in 1955.

Today Carlisle Floyd’s operas are performed throughout America and Europe and Susanna and Of Mice and Men have become standard repertoire. Floyd was one of eight recipients of the National Medal of Arts in 2004. He is also the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Citation of Merit from the National Association of American Conductors and Composers and the National Opera Institute’s Award for Service to American Opera. In 2008, Floyd was the only composer to be included in the inaugural National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors.
Carlisle Floyd
Allen Fletcher (Director)
Julius Rudel (Conductor)
Phyllis Curtin
Theodor Uppman
November 10, 1962
New York City Opera
The opera opens in Columbia, South Carolina at the end of the Civil War. It is 1865, and Columbia is a blackened ruin. Colonel Jonathan Wade, a Northern army officer, arrives in town and is greeted by a local judge, Gibbes Townsend, who invites him to dinner and introduces Wade to his daughter Celia, a war widow. Despite parental and societal objections due to the North and South conflicts, Wade and Celia begin to fall in love.

Later, at a party given by Judge Townsend as a gesture of conciliation, two guests, Lucas Wardlaw and Enoch Pratt, quarrel over the rights of newly freed slaves. Wade is caught in the verbal crossfire as guests express anti-Northern sentiments and denounce his views.

In 1866, an order comes from Washington demanding that the defeated Southerners take an oath of loyalty. Judge Townsend refuses, and is therefore forced to resign. Celia, on the other hand, takes the oath and Wade declares his love for her. As Wade and Celia kiss, Wardlaw discovers the couple together and threatens Wade with the vengeance of a vigilante group if he pursues the relationship further.

Colonel Wade appeals to Washington on Judge Townsend’s behalf but is unable to reverse the order; Townsend blames Wade, forbidding him to see Celia. Wade and Celia marry in spite of Townsend’s opposition, and the judge renounces his daughter. As a result, Wade finds his moderate position difficult to maintain. Pratt decides to have him replaced; Wade decides to desert the army and leave Columbia with Celia.

As the couple is leaving town a shot is fired, and Jonathan Wade dies in Celia’s arms. Various parties blame each other for his death. Finally, Celia says they are all culpable, and dreams of a time when their love might have flourished.
FOUR BLACK BOYS (boy s and bar quartet)
1st SOLDIER (t)
2nd SOLDIER (b)
JUDGE McBRIDE (non-speaking role)
CARRIAGE DRIVER (speaking role)
New York Times, Roberto Suro, 2/2/1991; The Opera Quarterly 1991 8(4):185-195
People of Columbia, Guardian Knights, Union Soldiers, and Nicey's Friends
2 fl(II=picc), 2 ob(II=corA), 2 cl, 2 bsn - 4 hrn, 2 tpt, 3 tbn, 1 tba - timp.perc(2):SD/tamb/glsp/cym/BD/ gong/xyl/wdbl/tgl - harp - strings
Boosey & Hawkes
229 W 28th Street, Floor 11
New York, NY 10001
Schedule of Performances Listings
The Passion of Jonathan Wade (Floyd)
Saturday, February 10, 1996 - San Diego Opera Association
The Passion of Jonathan Wade (Floyd)
Saturday, October 31, 1992 - Seattle Opera

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