A Forgotten Heritage: Arias and Scenes from Earlier American Operas


Author/Creator ORCID





Music for the Stage

Citation of Original Publication




This selection of recordings presents six arias and scenes excerpted from Romantic-era American operas performed by Towson University’s “Music for the Stage” ensemble as part of a scholarly symposium entitled “Composing American Opera” held in February 2015. Each number is a representative highlight drawn from little-known and undeservedly forgotten contributions to the early operatic heritage of the United States. Arias from Arthur Clifton’s The Enterprise and George F. Bristow’s Rip Van Winkle illustrate 19th-century trends, especially the ways in which composers grappled with the imported influences of Italian bel canto and German Romantic opera. Selections from Frederick S. Converse’s The Sacrifice, Mary Carr Moore’s Narcissa, Henry Hadley’s Azora, and Charles Wakefield Cadman’s Shanewis illustrate the development of a distinctively American operatic idiom during the 1910s. During this decade, for the first time in the nation’s history, numerous new scores were regularly and consistently being composed, published, produced, critiqued by the press, staged in multiple cities, and sometimes even heard in excerpts on recordings. The U.S. was at last engaged in the making of operatic history, rather than simply receiving it second-hand from Europe. The rarity of this repertory is highlighted by the fact that none of the selections presented here are currently available in commercially released recordings. -Dr. Aaron Ziegel, Assistant Professor of Music History and Culture