Composers and their stage works 

The Octoroon, or Life in Louisiana

Dion Boucicault

(1859) Melodrama dealing with tense pre-Civil War social issues, based on The Quadroon (1856), a novel by Mayne Reid.

George Peyton inherits his uncle's financially failing Louisiana plantation and falls in love with Zoë, a handsome slave girl, who is one-eighth Negro. She returns his affection but refuses his proposals of marriage, recognising the insurmountable barrier to their union. Money that has been sent to save the plantation is intercepted by Jacob McClosky, a New England overseer who wishes to take George's place as owner. As he kills the Negro mail messenger and takes the funds, a camera records his actions.

Meanwhile, although George could marry his neighbour, the wealthy Dora Sunnyside, and thus save his property, he refuses to do so because of his love for Zoë. Dora, however, convinces her father to buy the auctioned plantation and attempts to buy Zoë, who is also up for auction. But McClosky's bid wins the plantation and Zoë. When the accidentally exposed photographic plate reveals McClosky as thief and murderer, he is hunted down and killed. Meanwhile, Zoë, unaware of McClosky's end, takes poison to avoid his loathed embrace.