Opera: Florodora – Leslie Stuart

Florodora is a musical comedy in two acts, with music by Leslie Stuart, dialogue by Owen Hall and lyrics by Ernest Boyd Jones and Paul Reubens.

It was first presented in London in 1899.


Cyrus W. Gilfain, holder of the Island of Florodora. Capt. Arthur Donegal, Lady Holyrood’s brother. Frank Abercoed, Mr. Gilfain’s manager. Leandro, the overseer. Anthony Tweedle Punch, a detective, disguised as a phrenologist. Dolores, the rightful heir to the island. Valleda, Lady Holyrood’s maid. Estelle Lamont, a stenographer. Angela, the daughter of Gilfain. Lady Holyrood. Farmers, flower-girls and others.

The scene is laid partly on the semi-tropical island of Florodora ” set in the Eastern sea ” and partly in Wales. The time is the present. As usual with musical comedies, there is a small plot which does not interfere seriously with the music. There is a species of villain, Cyrus Gilfain, who has stolen the island of Florodora from its rightful owner. Gilfain is the manufacturer of a perfume, which he has named after the island, and Dolores, the daughter of the real owner, works in the factory. To make his claim to his possession indisputable, Gilfain determines to marry his charming employée but her affections have been previously engaged by the chief clerk, Abercoed. Gilfain has a daughter Angela and she and Captain Donegal are in love with each other. After one of Gilfain’s visits to England, he returns with an addition to his party in the person of Lady Holyrood, a London society woman, who has matrimonial designs upon him. Another addition to the population of Florodora is Tweedle Punch, a detective, disguised as a palmist and phrenologist, whose mission is to find the daughter of the real owner. He gives much valuable advice as to the choosing of life partners according to phrenological specifications. Gilfain, who has discovered that his chief clerk is really Lord Abercoed, bribes Tweedle Punch to decide that the young peer and Angela must wed and that he and Dolores are fitting mates. Lady Holyrood offers him more money and the phrenologist changes his mind and announces that she and Gilfain are destined for each other. Abercoed gets out of the distasteful affair by going back to England, promising, however, to return for Dolores.

The second act is laid in Wales. The prosperous Gil-fain has acquired the Abercoed Castle and refuses to admit the son of the former owner, who has been so unpleasant about falling in with his matrimonial plans. Abercoed gets in, however, in company with Dolores and Tweedle Punch and with the aid of a story of a castle ghost forces from Gilfain the confession of his dishonest dealing. So everything ends beautifully. Dolores comes into her own, Aber-coed gets back the ancestral castle and marries her; Angela and her captain are married and Lady Holyrood falls to the lot of Gilfain.

Seldom have songs persisted in being sung and whistled and parodied so long and so vigorously as have those of ” Florodora.” The vogue enjoyed by the tuneful production was greater than that of any similar work in recent years. True, when the musical comedy was brought from London to New York, the humor with which it was invested was found to be so essentially English that it fell flat on American ears. But this was patched up and a more sprightly dialogue resulted. It is safe to say,. how-ever, that with the elimination of one number, ” Tell me, Pretty Maiden,” sung by the double sextet of English girls and clerks, its popularity would have been many times diminished. With the charm of its words and rhythm increased by very clever stage business, this number proved so taking that audiences insisted upon hearing it over and over again. The double sextet is not, however, the only popular number. In the long list of them there are the chorus, ” The credit due to me ; ” ” When I leave town,” sung by Lady Holyrood ; Abercoed ” In the shade of the sheltering palm; ” Lady Holyrood’s topical song, ” Tact; ” Angela’s number, ” The fellow who might ; ” Donegal’s ” I want to be a Military Man and the song and dance by Leandro and Valleda, ” We get up at 8 a. m.”