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Marble City Opera Presents An Immersive Production Of Carlisle Floyd's "Susannah"


Melony Dodson talks with soprano and Executive and Artistic Director of Marble City Opera, Kathryn Frady

Although it's 75 years old, Carlisle Floyd's opera, Susannah, is as relevant today as it was in 1955, the year in which it was written. The fictional story takes place in New Hope Valley, Tennessee, which is an actual town, close to Chattanooga. The two-act opera tells the story of Susannah, a beautiful young woman whose parents have passed away, leaving her in the care of her older brother. The women of New Hope Valley are jealous of Susannah's youth and beauty and the attention she gets from their husbands and decide to turn the town against her by spreading rumors. Adding to that, the men of the church accidentally see Susannah bathing nude in the nearby creek. They hide their lust with outrage and tell the community of her wickedness. Susannah is shunned when she attends church later that evening and is told that she must repent. Standing strong, she says she has done nothing wrong and leaves. Later that night, she is visited in her home by the traveling preacher, Reverend Blitch, under the guise of "praying for her soul." Believing the town gossip that said Susannah was not a virgin, Blitch then rapes her, saying that he is a "lonely man." The next day, Reverend Blitch learns that Susannah was indeed a virgin and begs for her forgiveness. He tries to convince the church congregation that she has been judged unjustly, but they will hear nothing of it. The story ends in tragedy when Susannah's brother tries to get revenge on the preacher.

Marble City Opera will present an immersive production at John Sevier's home at Marble Springs historic site. The drama will take place in several locations throughout the site. Soprano, Kathryn Frady, will sing the title role, Joseph McBrayer sings the role of Sam, Knoxville native, Cody Boling, is Susannah's only friend, Little Bat, and bass-baritone, David Crawford, will sing the role of Reverend Blitch. The twenty-four piece orchestra will be conducted by Andy Anderson and stage direction is by Matthew Haney.

Performances are June 8, 9, and 10th at 7pm, with an online streaming option on Saturday, June 10th. Tickets and additional information are at https://www.marblecityopera.com/

Melony calls the beautiful mountains of Boone, N.C., home, although she was born near Greensboro, N.C. There’s just something about those Blue Ridge Mountains that got in her blood and never left after she moved there to attend Appalachian State University (ASU). While at ASU, she majored in piano performance and music therapy and began to cultivate a love for accompanying and for collaborating with other musicians. This soon led her to earn a master’s degree in collaborative piano at the University of Tennessee, which she attended from 2006-2008.