Daniel Catán / Libretto by Marcela Fuentes-Berain
Florencia en el Amazonas
“Vivid romanticism … Lyrical, colorful, with GREAT VITALITY … An excellent Ailyn Pérez … her sound LUSTROUS, FULL AND ELEGANT … The orchestra sounds fantastic … An involving production with LOTS OF PLEASURES. ****” —Financial Times
“MAGIC MADE REAL … A true grand opera ... One of the [Met’s] most VISUALLY STUNNING AND EMOTIONALLY AFFECTING outings of recent seasons … A perfect choice to bring Spanish-language opera into the mainstream … A FEAST FOR THE EYES.” —Observer
Sung in Spanish and inspired by the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez, Mexican composer Daniel Catán’s 1996 opera tells the enchanting story of an opera diva who returns to her native South America to perform at the legendary opera house of Manaus—and to search for her lost lover, who has vanished into the jungle. The Met premiere stars soprano Ailyn Pérez as Florencia Grimaldi, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin on the podium to lead a spellbinding new production by Mary Zimmerman that brings the mysterious and magical realm of the Amazon to the Met stage. A distinguished ensemble of artists portray the diva’s fellow travelers on the river boat to Manaus, including soprano Gabriella Reyes as the journalist Rosalba, bass-baritone Greer Grimsley as the ship’s captain, baritone Mattia Olivieri as his enigmatic first mate, tenor Mario Chang as the captain’s nephew Arcadio, and mezzo-soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera and baritone Michael Chioldi as the feuding couple Paula and Alvaro.
Please note that video cameras will be in operation during the December 5 and December 9 performances as part of the Met’s Live in HD series of cinema transmissions.
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Production a gift of The Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund
Additional support from Ellen A. Michelson and Michael W. Michelson, in honor of Laura Michelson Sievers
Florencia en el Amazonas is part of the Neubauer Family Foundation New Works Initiative
Languages sung in Florencia en el Amazonas
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Timeline for the show, Florencia en el Amazonas
Estimated Run Time
2 hrs 15 mins
Premiere: Houston Grand Opera, 1996
Fluidity—of time, place, emotion, and even of identity—is at the core of Florencia en el Amazonas. It is ostensibly the tale of passengers traveling down the Amazon River aboard the steamship El Dorado; the real drama, though, lies in the psychological journeys that each character undertakes. The libretto, by Marcela Fuentes-Berain, is an original story rich in allusion to other tales that skirt the border between drama and fantasy. Fuentes-Berain was a student of Gabriel García Márquez, whose style of magical informs the plot.
Hailing from Mexico City, Daniel Catán (1949–2011) was a celebrated composer of orchestral, instrumental, vocal, and film music. Among his other operas are La Hija de Rappaccini (1991) and Il Postino (2010). The libretto is by Marcela Fuentes-Berain (b. 1955), a noted Mexican screenwriter and educator.
S. Katy Tucker
The opera is set in the first years of the 20th century aboard a riverboat sailing through the Amazon River Basin. The name “el Amazonas” refers to the southernmost department, or state, in Colombia, as well as to the neighboring state across the border in Brazil (“o Amazonas” in Portuguese), of which Manaus is the capital.
Catán’s score is clearly and unabashedly romantic, reveling in luxuriant beauty and lush evocations of the natural world. The orchestra provides the basis for the flexibility between stylistic boundaries: sharp-edged conversation morphs seamlessly into expansive dream-like music that paints a portrait of the river; the turbulent storm in Act I emerges from casual chatter and subsides back into it. The opera’s climax belongs to its leading lady, who is transformed into a butterfly as her spirit transcends the human realm—recalling Wagner’s Isolde and her soaring Liebestod.