Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


School of Music


Music Performance

First Advisor

Charles Fugo


In 1946, Anthony Buttitta and Lawrence Gellert collaborated on an opera libretto loosely based on Wagner's Ring Cycle. Their folk opera, Diggin' the Ring, borrowed the narrative structure of the Ring Cycle. Buttitta replaced Wagner's characters with an all-black, mundane cast. Despite forty years of revisions and numerous unsuccessful attempts to produce the opera, Diggin' the Ring remained unknown until it was found in the Buttitta collection in the Hollings Special Collections Library at the University of South Carolina.

The purpose of this document is to provide a contextual analysis of this folk opera. It begins with a discussion of the parallels between Wagner's opera and the Buttitta version. The practice of using African-American folk music and casts in musical theatre during the 1930s and 1940s further contextualizes the opera. The study concludes with an examination of the propaganda value of this work from the perspective of the American Left.