At seventy-four, the composer Carlisle Floyd ought to be enjoying the pleasures associated with eminence and old age. His music-drama Susannah (1955) is said to be the most frequently performed opera written by an American. Of Mice and Men (1970), his treatment of Steinbeck’s novel, earned favor in Europe. Even his failures— for example, a poorly received Wuthering Heights (1958, later revised)—have been noble. In sum, Floyd has produced a body of work both distinctive and frequently appreciated. Some of the credit for that success must go to the Houston Grand Opera, which for the past quarter-century has been aiding the composer in his efforts. In 1976, after Floyd had moved from Florida to Houston, the company produced Bilby’s Doll. In 1981, Willie Stark was presented under its auspices and, in 1991, The Passion of Jonathan Wade. In addition, the HGO has...


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