U.S. Opera
Home About Composers Operas
Recommendations Download music Recordings, books and videos
Click on a composer's name for more information

Mark Adamo

John Adams

Dominick Argento

Jan Bach

Samuel Barber

Samuel Barlow

Amy Beach

Jack Beeson

Leonard Bernstein

Marc Blitzstein

William Bolcom

Paul Bowles

Joseph Carl Breil

G. F. Bristow

Dudley Buck

Charles Wakefield Cadman

David Carlson

George W. Chadwick

Edward Joseph Collins

David Conte

Frederick Shepherd Converse

Aaron Copland

John Corigliano

Walter Damrosch

Anthony Davis

Reginald De Koven

Norman Dello Joio

Deborah Drattell

John Eaton

Julius Eichberg

Carlisle Floyd

Lukas Foss

Harry Lawrence Freeman

William Henry Fry

George Gershwin

Philip Glass

Frederick G. Gleason

Louis Gruenberg

Henry Hadley

Daron Hagen

Howard Hanson

John Harbison

Jake Heggie

Victor Herbert

Scott Joplin

Ulysses Kay

Adam Levowitz

Lowell Liebermann

Peter Lieberson

Otto Luening

Gian Carlo Menotti

Douglas Moore

Mary Carr Moore

John Knowles Paine

Horatio Parker

Thomas Pasatieri

Stephen Paulus

Tobias Picker

Silas G. Pratt

Joseph D. Redding

Mike Reid

Peter Schickele

Gunther Schuller

William Schuman

Roger Sessions

John Laurence Seymour

Elie Siegmeister

William Grant Still

Deems Taylor

Randall Thompson

Virgil Thomson

Stewart Wallace

Robert Ward

Hugo Weisgall

Please visit our sister sites:

Mousehold Words

The Atlas of Fiction

Harry Lawrence Freeman

Born October 9, 1875, Cleveland, Ohio
Died March 21, 1954, New York, New York
About Harry Lawrence Freeman

Harry Lawrence Freeman was one of the first important black composers for the operatic stage, and his first work, The Martyr, was the first opera ever produced by all-Black forces. Athough he was more successful in his lifetime than many of his contempraries, his work has since faded into obscurity. In addition to composing and conducting, he was an impressario and a teacher, teaching at Wilberforce University in Chicago and the Salem School of Music, and founding the Freeman School of Music and the Freeman School of Grand Operas. Many of his works were premiered by companies he founded, and starred his wife, Carlotta. As a prominent black musical citizen and opera composer, Scott Joplin consulted him regarding Joplin's opera, Treemonisha.

Freeman's three operas, Nada the Lily, Allah, and The Zulu King, formed a trilogy of Zulu history called Zululand, after the Zulu history novels of H. Rider Haggard. (Haggard's books are entitled Nada the Lily, Marie, Child of Storm, and Finished.) It is likely that Chaka, The Ghost Wolves, and The Storm Witch (all given in Hipsher but not in other sources) are early or inaccurate titles for these four operas. New Grove gives the total number of his operas at 14.

In addition to his operas, Freeman composed many works for other genres, including his symphonic poem, "The Slave", for orchestra and chorus. Contemporary reviews are often examples of the racist code used by the newspapers of the time; for example, one review of Voodoo was headlined: "'Voodoo,' Bizarre Work of Basic Music, In Premiere", and called the opera "a thing so hideously bizarre that it was beautiful." Anyone with more information on Freeman, including information on a radio broadcast of "Voodoo" on WGBS Chicago on May 20, 1948, please contact me.

  • The Martyr, opera in two acts
    Libretto by the composer.
    September, 1893, Freeman Grand Opera Company, Deutsches Theater, Denver, Colorado
  • Nada, opera in three acts
    Libretto by the composer.
    composed 1898
  • Zuluki (revision of Nada) (composed 1898; premiere 1898)
  • An African Kraal, opera in one act
    Libretto by the composer.
    composed 1903
  • The Octoroon, opera in four acts with prologue
    Libretto by the composer.
    composed 1904
  • Valdo, opera in one act with intermezzo
    Libretto by the composer.
    May, 1906, Freeman Grand Opera Company, Weisgerber's Hall, Cleveland, OH
  • The Tryst, opera in one act
    Libretto by the composer.
    1911, Freeman Operatic Duo, Cresccent Theater, New York, New York, Wampum: Carlotta Freeman; Lone Star: Hugo Williams
  • The Prophecy, opera in one act
    Libretto by the composer.
    composed 1911
  • The Plantation, opera in three (four?) acts
    Libretto by the composer.
    composed 1915
  • Athalia, opera in three acts with prologue
    Libretto by the composer.
    composed 1916
  • Vendetta, opera in three acts
    Libretto by the composer.
    November 12, 1923, Negro Grand Opera Company, Inc., Lafayette Theater, New York, New York
  • American Romance, jazz opera (1927)
  • Voodoo, opera in three acts
    Libretto by the composer.
    composed c. 1914; premiere 1928
  • The Flapper, jazz grand opera in four acts (September 10, 1928, 52nd St. Theater, New York, New York, Lolo, the Voodoo Queen: Carlotta Freeman; Cleota: Doris Trotman; Mando: Ray Yates; cond. comp.)
  • Leah Kleschna
    Libretto by the composer after the play by C. M. S. McClellan.
    [possibly unperformed]
  • Uzziah (1931)
  • The Slave (1932)
  • The Zulu King (1934)
  • Nada, the Lily (1944)
  • Allah (1947)
  • Chaka [incomplete]
  • The Ghost Wolves [incomplete (?)]
  • The Storm Witch [incomplete (?)]

Discography Search for recordings of the music of Harry Lawrence Freeman at Amazon.com

No recordings of the operas of Harry Lawrence Freeman are currently in our discography database. Click here to search for recordings by this composer at Amazon.com

Last update: January 1, 2009