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The young and innocent Susannah lives with her brother in a small town in Appalachia. One fateful day, men from her church happen to spot her bathing in a stream and begin to spread vicious rumors about her. As gossip circulates, the community turns their back on Susannah, forcing her to choose between conformity and isolation. But Susannah won’t be made a victim forever. She refuses to give a false confession, inflaming the town around her with tragic, life-altering consequences. Set to a rich score, this classic American opera offers a powerful indictment of religious and social hypocrisy. 

Awarded the New York Music Critics Circle Award for Best New Opera in 1956, Susannah is widely praised for its contemporary feminist themes. OTSL will stage the American classic for the first time during its 2023 Festival Season.

Accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

Event information

Loretto-Hilton Center

Performed in English with projected English supertitles

Running Time
2 hours and 30 minutes (including one 25-minute intermission)

Content warning:
This production contains appearances of firearms and spoken references to violence and sexual assault

Photo Gallery & Videos

Video: “Ain’t It a Pretty Night”

Video: “Jaybird”

Video: “The Trees on the Mountain”

Creative Team

Gemma New


Patricia Racette

Stage Director

Andrew Boyce

Set Designer

Kaye Voyce

Costume Designer

Greg Emetaz

Video Projections Designer

Eric Southern

Lighting Designer

Krystal Balleza

Wig Designer

Will Vicari

Makeup Designer

Seán Curran


Greg Geffrard

Intimacy Coach & Fight Choreographer

Andrew Whitfield

Chorus Master

Jennifer Ringo

English Diction Specialist

Kedrick Armstrong

Assistant & Cover Conductor

Bin Yu Sanford



Janai Brugger

Susannah Polk

William Guanbo Su

Olin Blitch

Frederick Ballentine

Sam Polk

Christian Sanders

Little Bat McLean

Elissa Pfaender

Mrs. McLean

Keith Klein

Elder McLean

Joseph Park

Elder Ott

River Guard

Elder Gleaton

César Andrés Parreño

Elder Hayes

Anastasia Malliaras

Mrs. Hayes

Rachel Barg

Mrs. Ott

Melissa Joseph

Mrs. Gleaton

Kellen Schrimper

First Man

Casey Germain

Second Man

Susannah is supported by a gift honoring the memory of Sally S. Levy from The Saucy Foundation by her children: Lucy & J. David Levy, Diane & Paul Jacobson, and Karen & Mont Levy. 

Major production support comes from Emily Rauh Pulitzer 

Opera Theatre dedicates this production to the memory of Phyllis Brissenden, whose kindness, generosity, and joy will be celebrated for years to come.