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Video Published: 05 Feb 2024

NEA Opera Honors: An Oral History with Carlisle Floyd

In 2008, composer Carlisle Floyd was awarded an NEA Opera Honors award and sat down for an interview about opera and their life.

This interview was originally posted by the NEA on June 3, 2010.
The Oral History Project is supported by the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation. 

Carlisle Floyd, composer

Carlisle Floyd (1926–2021) was one of the most celebrated American composers and librettists of the 20th and early 21st centuries. His operas — which include Susannah (1955), The Passion of Jonathan Wade (1962), Of Mice and Men (1970), Willie Stark (1981), and Cold Sassy Tree (2000) — have been staged by companies such as Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, San Diego Opera, and New York City Opera, among others. His final opera, Prince of Players, premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 2016. As an educator, Floyd played a crucial role in two important training programs. In 1977, he was co-founder of the Houston Grand Opera Studio. He also accepted the M.D. Anderson Professorship at the University of Houston, a position he held until his retirement in 1996. Floyd has received honors from arts organizations, educational establishments, and governments, and in 2001 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His most performed opera, Susannah, won the New York Music Critic's Circle Award and represented America at the 1958 Brussels World Fair.

Carlisle Floyd was a 2008 recipient of the NEA Opera Honors, a program administered by the National Endowment for the Arts from 2008 to 2011. The NEA Opera Honors recipients are now recognized in OPERA America’s Opera Hall of Fame.

Oral History Project

Discover the full collection of oral histories at the link below.