A wronged heiress, a faithful lover, a resourceful maid, and an avaricious uncle play out their roles in the first opera ever performed in the American colonies. Now 274 years later, Flora returns to the Dock Street as the theatre reopens after three years of renovation. Directed and designed by John Pascoe. Neely Bruce will conduct. Sponsored by BMW Manufacturing Co. Presented by Spoleto Festival USA. Approximately one hour 30 minutes.
It's a musical time capsule
Flora hasn't been heard for 250 years. But back in Colonial times, it was immensely popular here and across the pond. In 1736, it was performed in America's first custom-built theater on Dock Street. Now it's being presented as the first show in the newly refurbished Dock Street Theatre.
It's not really an opera
According to Neely Bruce, this is an anti-opera. "Flora is a ballad opera," says the conductor and orchestrator. "It satirizes Italian opera, systematically doing things that the Italians did not." It's performed in English with moments of spoken dialogue and there are short, popular tunes instead of specially composed arias. "If a traditional opera did it," Bruce adds, "the ballad opera didn't."
It's funny and flirty
Despite its old age, there's plenty of humor in Flora that will work for modern audiences: slapstick, larger-than-life characters, and farcical situations. In one set piece, a main character falls down a well; when his mother tries to draw water, she remarks on how heavy the bucket feels. She pulls him up wet and gets mad at him. It's simple stuff, but thanks to Bruce, the music will have enough complexity to give sophisticated audiences their money's worth.