skip to primary navigationskip to content

Flora Willson

Flora Willson

Research Fellow, King's College

King's College
Office Phone: 01223 339728


Flora Willson is a 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 primarily on nineteenth-century opera and urban culture and she has published in. Her PhD dissertation addressed these issues in the historical milieu of 1860s Paris, arguing that Napoleon III’s Second Empire constitutes an important moment in the broader process of operatic canon formation. Since completing her dissertation, she has taken her interest in the mid-nineteenth century in two new directions. First, to London and musical displays in the Great Exhibition of 1851 (in a chapter for a new essay collection on music and the history of science in early nineteenth-century London); second, to Constantinople and the Crimea, in a project about Italian opera in and around the battlefields of the Crimean War.

Flora’s main postdoctoral project is a book on operatic networks in the 1890s. This was a time when mobility was recognised to be essential to operatic culture and when works, composers, audiences and ideas circulated constantly. Her book project focuses particularly on how these paths of circulation intersected with the relationship between London and Paris. For much of the century these had been opera’s two unchallenged “world cities”; by the early 1890s, however, shifting institutional hierarchies and the rise of New York and other non-European cities as rival operatic centres were calling their pre-eminence into question.

Flora has published academic articles and reviews in 19th-Century Music, Cambridge Opera Journal, Cambridge Verdi Encyclopedia (Cambridge University Press, 2013), Nineteenth-Century Music Review and the Journal of Modern Italian Studies, with another article forthcoming in Opera Quarterly. She enjoys sharing her research with a wider audience and writes occasional reviews and essays for Opera, has given pre-performance talks at Barbican, English National Opera, Glyndebourne and Royal Opera House and has appeared as a guest on BBC Radio 3. She is also the editor of a new critical edition of Donizetti’s 1840 grand opera Les Martyrs (Ricordi, 2015); the edition will be premiered and recorded for Opera Rara in November 2014 by Sir Mark Elder and the OAE.

Departments and Institutes

King's College:
Junior Research Fellow

Key Publications

‘Classic Staging: Pauline Viardot and the 1859 Orphée Revival’, Cambridge Opera Journal 22/3 (November 2010 [published January 2012]), 301-26

‘Of Time and the City: Verdi’s Don Carlos and Its Parisian Critics’, 19th-Century Music 37/3 (Spring 2014), 188-210


« September 2015 »

Connect with us