Magazine article Opera Canada

Flora or Hob in the Well

Magazine article Opera Canada

Flora or Hob in the Well

Article excerpt

Flora or Hob in the Well was the first opera performed in the Thirteen Colonies. So successful was the Charleston performance in 1735 that the Dock Street Theatre--the first theatre in the English colonies--was built in 1736 to be a home for opera and theatre (which included a repeat of Flora). How fitting that the first production at the Spoleto Festival's newly renovated Dock Street Theatre this summer ($20 million and three years later) should be Flora.

Flora is a ballad opera, meaning music was added to a play by writing new lyrics to well-known songs. The libretto is attributed to Thomas Doggett and John Hippisley. Since the original Flora score is lost although the songs are known, composer/conductor Neely Bruce was commissioned to write the connecting music for this revival using the songs as his anchor. Bruce certainly conveyed period authenticity with quite lovely Baroque settings for the arias and ensembles, as well as tuneful and evocative musical interludes.

The story concerns a wicked uncle, Sir Thomas Testy (baritone Timothy Nolen), who keeps his heiress niece, Flora (soprano Andriana Chuchman), locked up. Flora, however, wants to marry Tom Friendly (baritone Tyler Duncan). …

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