University of British Columbia
Jordan, Robert, Opera Canada
With the May 12 opening night on what would have been Florence Nightingale's 186th birthday, Florence--the Lady with the Lamp was a small, local success, but an important one. Indeed, if this fully staged co-production of the University of British Columbia's Schools of Nursing and of Music is any indication, the future of opera on the UBC campus is assured.
As far as I can determine, this was only the third production of Timothy Sullivan's bio-opera of the famous 19th-century English nurse, which premiered at the Elora Festival in 1992 with a revival by Toronto's Opera in Concert three years later. Florence received two performances at UBC with a double cast of soloists. Performers were mostly students, the singing cast leavened with a few members of Actors' Equity, the orchestra with sessional faculty from the School of Music. The results were surprisingly cohesive and powerful, especially considering the music must have been new to almost everyone. Even the leaden acoustics of the venerable Old Auditorium, which has no pit, could not diminish the impact of the enthusiastic and highly competent cast. …