MAZEPPA by Tchaikovsky
"If it at first it seemed a little foolhardy to mount such a big work on a small scale, any doubts were quickly laid to rest right from the opening women's chorus. You could just sit back, forget the spectacle and concentrate on Tchaikovsky's luscious vocal writing."

Wayne Gooding, OPERA CANADA

2022 SEASON


SAMUEL BARBER
Vanessa
Sunday, January 23, 2022
2:30 pm


TIMOTHY SULLIVAN
& ANNE MCPHERSON

Florence: The Lady With The Lamp
Sunday, March 27, 2022
2:30 pm


VIRGIL THOMSON
The Mother of Us All
Sunday, May 22, 2022
2:30 pm


 

 

 

TIMOTHY SULLIVAN & ANNE MCPHERSON
Florence: The Lady With The Lamp

Sunday, March 27, 2022

The opera is based on the life of Florence Nightingale, a British nurse who was a transformative social reformer and statistician best known as the founder of modern nursing. Canadian Composer Timothy Sullivan and Librettist Anne McPherson present this towering figure during the turbulent times of the Crimean War, and the pestilence and poor public health conditions of the mid-19th century.

Featuring

SYNOPSIS

ACT I – London, England, 1840s

The Nightingale Family, of affluent status in London, prepares for a soon-to-be-held ball where it is assumed by Mrs. Fanny Nightingale that her two daughters, Parthenope and Florence will advance their prospects for a suitable marriage. Florence is in despair when she finds out her best friend John Smithurst is set to leave for Red River as a missionary. At the ball, Richard, a long-time suitor, proposes marriage. Florence is non-committal and asks for more time. Her parents and her sister pressure her to accept but Florence is determined to pursue her path similar to that of John's, in the service of the poor and the destitute. The unrelenting pressure at home causes her to suffer a breakdown after which she confesses to her parents and sister that she has found a vocation and she decides to become a nurse. The reaction is swift and harsh. Nursing is equated to prostitution and such a move will ruin the family's reputation. Florence counters that her intention is to elevate nursing to a profession that will be admired and respected by all in the community. In the heated confrontation, Florence seems to hear the voice of John counselling patience and understanding of her parents. Convinced that she is in the right, she obtains her father's blessing to pursue her dream.

ACT II – The Crimean War – 1853-1856

Time has past and John Smithurst announces to his congregation that the Crimean War escalates with more dead, wounded and severe illnesses at the front. Florence's efforts to advance nursing as a profession have been successful. The Minister of War calls upon Florence to take her nurses to the war area near Crimea. She accepts and embarks with her team for Constantinople. On their arrival after a terrible voyage, they encounter resistance from the doctors and their male helpers who declare that war is no place for women. However, Florence presents her orders from the Minister of War and Doctor Hall, relents. Soon enough the nurses and nuns protest the hardships and the growing cholera infestation at the hospital. Sister Bridgeman wants Florence to ease off her unrelenting push for extra work hours or resign her post. The confrontation leads to the intercession of the doctors, nurses, nuns and soldiers. The voice of John Smithurst is overheard encouraging Florence to be strong and to hold on to her mission while he also announces the end of the war. Parthenope goes to Florence's aid as she returns to London weak and exhausted. Recognition by the State honours Florence's heroic actions on behalf of the British soldier and her accomplishments for nursing as a noble profession.