Opera: Soprano, tenor, bass-baritone soloists, 3 winds, violin/viola, cello, double bass, percussion
Libretto adapted by John Hardy from Flowers of the Dead Red Sea by Ed Thomas.
Commissioned by Music Theatre Wales. First performed 17/03/94 at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff by Music Theatre Wales conducted by Michael Rafferty.
Flowers was premiered in 1994 by Music Theatre Wales and is based on the Ed Thomas play Flowers of the Dead Red Sea. It toured across the UK and Europe in 1995 and 1996 to great critical acclaim.
The opera is scored for soprano, tenor and bass singers with seven instrumentalists playing three clarinets, violin/viola, cello, bass and percussion, plus plate smashing by the conductor.
“Hardy’s 90-minute opera is gripping and intensely theatrical. He has a feeling for the dramatic ebb and flow of opera which can’t be taught but clearly benefits from his theatre and film experience… blackly humorous and ironic by turns… Hardy draws a wealth of colour…[an] important endorsement of Welsh opera.”
Peter Reynolds, Opera Now, May 1994
“The opera is driven from climax to climax by Hardy’s violent but irresistible score, rich in detail and full of diverse ideas… it creates a fierce concentration… tensions are built expertly… a message for our times, strongly delivered.”
Kenneth Loveland, Musical Opinion, May 1994
“John Hardy’s new 90-minute chamber opera for Music Theatre Wales has a lot going for it. Hardy’s energetic, instinctive music, resourcefully scored… is very much to the point, communicating with commendable flexibility the whole gamut of human emotions.”
Stephen Pettitt, The Times, 21 March 1994
“Hardy delivers his protest with conviction and with violence, and we are won to his side. The score… is rich and evocative… generous in detail.”
Kenneth Loveland, Opera, May 1994
“A very varied, wide emotional spectrum expressed”
Stuttgarter Zeitung, 7 August 1995
“Another musical hit… John Hardy’s new work Flowers is music theatre on the edge, provocative, disturbing and extremely enjoyable… a focused and highly charged piece… emotionally searing, challenging but accessible.”
Mike Smith, Western Mail, 19 March 1994
“Flowers is a strong piece that seems to do what it sets out to… with terrific conviction, with a flair for tortuous sonic imagery, and with no hint that the composer is not in complete control of his materials.”
Stephen Walsh, The Independent, 19 March 1994
“(It's) about passion, struggle and survival in a world of disappearing values. Hardy is no stranger to writing music for the stage, having produced an epic score.”
Nerys Lloyd-Pierce, Wales on Sunday, 13 March 1994
“John Hardy, an exciting composer… developed a dramatic style both accessible and challenging. An utterly engrossing piece… all quite mesmeric… a sharply defined, unique and surprising piece of music-theatre that should attract anyone who enjoys the unexpected.”
David Adams, Guardian, 25 March 1994