Flora

INSTRUMENTATION
mezzo-soprano and piano

DURATION
7′ 30″

TEXT
Emily Dickinson

Commissioned by Felice Morel.

PROGRAM NOTES
Emily Dickinson’s love of nature is almost as renowned as her poetry. her horticultural leanings are prevalent throughout her collected works. Flora represents just a few of her many poems on flowers and botany. Each song progresses in a journey as the singer pontificates on flowers and the relationship they hold with people.

The first song dives right into cheerful praise, examining how flowers brighten our lives (no matter how small). Dickinson builds our excitement, citing vibrant and joyous images. The levity in this poem dances across in a whirling delight of staccato notes.

The joy of the first song is still present in the second, but offset with remorse. Dickinson contemplates that, although the singer treasures the flower, so do others. And while it may be borrowed, the flower is too fragile to give. Motives from the first song reappear.

Having started the cycle in an excited spirit, the singer is coming to a final realization of a world without flowers – without nature. In this poem, Dickinson ponders a world bereft of nature’s joy. She alludes to lying idle “in Auburn,” a dated reference to solitary confinement in prison. Accompaniment shifts into minor and more dreamlike tonalities as the singer ponders these final somber thoughts.