American operas and American history have one thing in common.
Most people don’t pay a lot of attention to them. And when you’ve got an American opera on the subject of American women’s struggle for the right to vote, watch out. And I mean watch out! Depending on your point of view, “The Mother of Us All” is utterly wacky or utterly wonderful. It certainly has an all-American lineup. Virgil Thomson wrote the music, Gertrude Stein the libretto. And the main character is Susan B. Anthony. In the 19th century, she was the most reviled and revered woman in America.
Today Susan B. Anthony is remembered mainly as the woman whose face failed to launch the one-dollar coin. But we’re flipping that, to focus on the woman and the remarkable opera about her.
(Hosted by Alex Beam)
Anthony Tommasini, music critic for the New York Times and author of “Virgil Thomson: Composer on the Aisle”;
John Rodney Lister, instructor at the New England Conservatory of Music;
Mary Loeffelholz, professor of American literature at Northeastern University;
Star Trompeter, who plays Susan B. Anthony in the current production at Harvard University.