Flora was the first ballad opera performed in North America, and one of the most popular opera’s of its time – the mid-1700s. Opera fans have long been eager to hear and see it performed, but a full scale revival faced a bit of a problem: only 18 pages of the opera’s music has survived. Recreating this piece in the style and scope faithful the original production would be a daunting task, but one Neely Bruce, professor of music, professor of American Studies, was excited to undertake.
The result of his work was premiered at the 2010 Spoleto Festival, in Charleston, S.C., and lauded by The New York Times. Spoleto runs from May 28-June 13 and is one of The United States’ largest annual arts festivals. Bruce said recreating Flora was “a big job” but one that was well worth the effort, saying the libretto had always been “extremely funny with a strong sense of language, and it’s quite salacious, with stock comedy situations — some of them very broad, almost slapstick.”