Written by Carlisle Floyd during the McCarthy era, Susannah is loosely based on the apocryphal tale of Susannah and the Elders. The two-act opera focuses on 18-year-old Susannah Polk, an innocent girl who is targeted as a sinner in the small mountain town of New Hope Valley, Tennessee. The music is largely characterized by Appalachian folk melodies. The opera includes some Protestant hymns and some traditional classical music. Susannah is one of the most performed American operas, second only to Porgy and Bess.