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A musical play in one act, Slow Dusk (1948-49) was Carlisle Floyd’s first opera and was premiered at Augustana College in Syracuse, NY, on May 2, 1949. At 40 minutes, Slow Dusk is the simple and powerful story of an impoverished young woman on a farm in the sandhills of the Carolinas, whose dreams are destroyed by religious fanaticism and family obligations.

In direct contrast to Floyd’s American setting of Slow Dusk, Markheim (1966) is a 65 minute, one-act opera based on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson and is set in London in the 1880s, during the Christmas season. It is the story of a man of privilege who has squandered his family fortune. Desperate for money, he is pursued by demons both real and imagined. The opera was written as a vehicle for the great American bass-baritone Norman Treigle and received its world premiere with the New Orleans Opera on March 31, 1966, with Floyd serving as the production’s director and Knud Andersson conducting.