Flora Willson is a Junior Research Fellow at King’s College. She read music at Selwyn College before pursuing graduate study at King’s College London. Her research interests focus on nineteenth-century opera, in particular its modes of production, dissemination and reception. Her PhD dissertation addresses these issues in the urban milieu of 1860s Paris, considering how operatic culture under Napoleon III’s Second Empire increasingly embraced the musical past while demonstrating an obsessive concern about the future.
Flora’s current project concerns the circulation of opera in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, using as its case study the complex web of operatic exchange between London and Paris. It considers the ways in which opera functioned as a medium of cultural communication between these two competing world cities – one that articulated and redefined their position in a shifting global order while working alongside new and expanding telecommunications networks.
In addition to her main historical research, Flora is currently preparing a new critical edition (for Ricordi, Milan) of Donizetti’s 1840 grand opera Les Martyrs; the edition will be premiered by Sir Mark Elder and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in 2014 and subsequently recorded by Opera Rara. She regularly gives pre-performance talks for Glyndebourne, English National Opera, the Royal Opera House and elsewhere, and writes reviews for Opera magazine. She has published academic articles and reviews in Cambridge Opera Journal, Cambridge Verdi Encyclopedia (forthcoming from CUP), Nineteenth-Century Music Review and the Journal of Modern Italian Studies.