Ethel Smyth: Composer, Feminist, Suffragette



IN LATE SPRING OF 2015, I received a flyer from Bard College advertising their SummerScape opera production of The Wreckers (1904), by the British composer Ethel Smyth, with a libretto by Harry Brewster. It took a moment for me to notice that the opera had been composed by a woman. Two thoughts occurred to me simultaneously: I had to see this opera, and who was Ethel Smyth? Despite growing up in a family that listened to opera as background music, I had never heard of her.

John Singer Sargent, Ethel Smyth, 1901
John Singer Sargent, Ethel Smyth, 1901

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