24 November 2013

Conrad Susa, 78, American Composer of Transformations and The Dangerous Liaisons, Has Died

Springdale, PA, April 26, 1935 —San Francisco, CA, November 21, 2013

Conrad Susa, the American composer of the chamber opera Transformations as well as The Dangerous Liaisons, has died.

The composer's most performed work for the stage, Transformations also marked Susa's first foray into opera. Based on Anne Sexton's 1971 book of poems that evoked the fairy-tale world of the Brothers Grimm, Susa's opera had its world premiere at Minnesota Opera in 1973.  Subsequent Transformations productions included a 1978 PBS telecast of a Minnesota Opera revival and stagings by Spoleto Festival USA, Aspen Opera Theater, New York Opera Repertory Theater, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Merola program, Juilliard and the Wexford Festival. Among Susa's other operas was The Dangerous Liaisons, which had its world premiere at San Francisco Opera in 1994, with Thomas Hampson, Frederica von Stade and Renée Fleming heading the cast, and was later televised on PBS.

Susa was educated at Carnegie Tech and Juilliard. He wrote incidental music for several Broadway productions, including the APA-Phoenix stagings of Right You Are If You Think You Are (1966) and Exit the King (1968).

A longtime resident of California, Susa was composer in residence at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego (1959–94).  In 1988, Susa joined the faculty of San Francisco Conservatory, where he remained chair of the composition department at the time of his death. spacer

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