The Arts

Spoleto Festival USA – Neely Bruce's Flora, An Opera

Spoleto Festival USA – Neely Bruce's Flora, An Opera featured image

Reviewed by Paula Citron

Flora was the first opera performed at Charleston’s historic Dock Street Theatre in 1736. How fitting that the first production at the newly renovated Dock Street Theatre should be Flora.

Flora is a ballad opera, with music added to a play by writing new lyrics to well known songs. Because the original score is lost, composer/conductor Neely Bruce was commissioned to write the connecting music for this revival, and he certainly conveys period authenticity.

A wicked uncle (baritone Timothy Nolen) tries to prevent his heiress niece Flora (soprano Andriana Churchman) from marrying Tom Friendly (baritone Tyler Duncan).

Both Churchman and Duncan are Canadians, and they give delightful performances, both in terms of singing and acting. For the sake of my fellow Canadians, I really wanted to enjoy the opera, but I found John Pascoe’s staging overbusy and the humour laboured.

I wanted 18th century wit, and I got boring slapstick humour.

Spoleto Festival USA continues until Jun. 13.

Flora, An Opera
Spoleto Festival USA
Composed and conducted by Neely Bruce (based on popular songs)
Directed by John Pascoe
Starring Andriana Chuchman, Tyler Duncan, Robert McPherson and Timothy Nolen
Dock Street Theatre, May 29 to Jun. 12
Charleston, South Carolina

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