Daniel Catán's Magical Florencia en el Amazonas
Journeys Home to LA Opera
(Los Angeles) August 13, 2014 — General Director Plácido Domingo has announced final details for LA Opera's first revival of Florencia en el Amazonas, an enchanting and romantic opera by composer Daniel Catán. Co-commissioned by LA Opera in 1995, the opera returns to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for six performances from November 22 through December 20, 2014. In the exquisitely beautiful opera, inspired by the fiction of Gabriel García Márquez, a steamboat passage along the fabled Amazon becomes a poignant voyage of discovery for all seven travelers on board.
"Daniel Catán crafted some of the most beautiful operas of our time" said Mr. Domingo, who created the leading role of Pablo Neruda in Mr. Catán's Il Postino, commissioned and premiered by LA Opera in 2010. "His operas are truly loved by audiences—who frequently ask me to present them again—and they are loved even more by those of us who have had the privilege of performing his music. It gives me great pleasure to revive a work that audiences have so enthusiastically embraced at major opera houses throughout the United States and abroad."
Cast and Creative Team
Florencia en el Amazonas, which is sung in Spanish, features a cast of seven soloists, five of whom are native Spanish speakers. Chilean soprano Verónica Villarroel returns to LA Opera as Florencia Grimaldi, a famous prima donna revisiting her homeland in search of her one true love. This will be Ms. Villarroel's seventh leading role with the company. She made her Los Angeles debut as Violetta in La Traviata in 1992, with subsequent appearances that include Soleá in El Gato Montés (1994), Nedda in Pagliacci (1996), Cio-Cio-San in Madame Butterfly (2004) and Elettra in Idomeneo (2004). Her most recent LAO appearance was in 2006 as a soloist in the Plácido Domingo & Friends 20th Anniversary Gala.
Two notable artists will be making their LA Opera debuts in the production. Cuban-American soprano Lisette Oropesa, a 2007 Operalia winner, will appear as Rosalba, an aspiring young journalist who hopes to write a biography of the elusive Florencia. Baritone José Carbó, born in Argentina and raised in Australia, will take on the role of the shapeshifting river spirit Riolobo.
Also featured are several distinguished returning artists: Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón Cruz (a 2005 Operalia winner) as the young sailor Arcadio, Spanish mezzo-soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera (a 1996 Operalia winner) and baritone Gordon Hawkins as long-married couple Paula and Alvaro, and bass-baritone David Pittsinger as the Captain.
Left to right: Arturo Chacón-Cruz, Nancy Fabiola Herrera, Gordon Hawkins, David Pittsinger
The production will be conducted by Grant Gershon, LA Opera's Resident Conductor, who conducted the 2010 world premiere of Catán's Il Postino at LA Opera. Francesca Zambello, director of last season's Billy Budd, returns to Los Angeles to restage and update a production she first directed at LA Opera in 1997.
The creative team for the production also includes scenery designer Robert Israel, costume designer Catherine Zuber and lighting designer Mark McCullough. The production will be choreographed by Eric Sean Fogel, who makes his LAO debut.
About the Opera
Florencia en el Amazonas is inspired by the fiction of Gabriel García Márquez, who personally selected his protégée and collaborator Marcela Fuentes-Berain to be the opera's librettist. Blending romance and mysticism, the opera follows a steamboat travelling the Amazon toward the famous opera house in Manaus, Brazil. One of the passengers is a celebrated prima donna, returning icognito to her homeland after a long and illustrious career in Europe, and hoping to reunite with the great love of her life.
Commissioned jointly by LA Opera, Houston Grand Opera and Seattle Opera, Florencia en el Amazonas was the first Spanish-language opera written for major U.S. opera companies. The 1996 world premiere in Houston broke all previous attendance records for a new work by that company, and the opera was revived there in 2001.
After the west coast premiere at LA Opera in 1997, the opera was presented in 1998 in Seattle (where it was revived in 2005), followed by performances at the Opera de Colombia (Bogotá) and Ópera de Bellas Artes & Festival Internacional Cervantino (Mexico City). In recent seasons, it has also been produced by Cincinnati Opera, Utah Opera and Opera Colorado, making it one of the most successful operas of our time.
About the Composer
Il Postino, a triumph at its 2010 world premiere at LA Opera, was the final opera completed by Mexican-born composer Daniel Catán (1949-2011). With Plácido Domingo creating the leading role of poet Pablo Neruda, Il Postino broke LA Opera’s previous box office records for a new opera and was filmed for PBS's "Great Performances" and subsequently released on DVD by Sony Classics.
San Diego Opera produced his opera Rappaccini's Daughter in 1994, making Mr. Catán the first Mexican composer to have an opera professionally produced in the United States. The success of Rappacini's Daughter led to the commissioning of Florencia en el Amazonas by three prominent American opera companies. Houston Grand Opera commissioned his next opera, Salsipuedes: A Tale of Love, War and Anchovies, a dark comedy that premiered in 2004. His last completed opera, Il Postino, has been performed in cities including Los Angeles, Vienna, Paris, Mexico City, Santiago and Madrid. A resident of South Pasadena and a professor at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Mr. Catán was working on an opera based on the Frank Capra film Meet John Doe at the time of his death.
For artist bios, background material and ticketing information, click here.
Florencia en el Amazonas is performed in Spanish, with simultaneous English translation projected over the stage.
Performance Dates, Times and Special Events
There will be six performances of Florencia en el Amazonas at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, located at 135 North Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90012:
• Saturday, November 22, 2014, at 7:30pm (opening night)
• Sunday, November 30, at 2:00pm (Domingo Family Program day)
• Wednesday, December 10, 2014, at 7:30pm (Newcomer Night)
• Sunday, December 14, at 2:00pm
• Thursday, December 18, at 7:30pm
• Saturday, December 20, at 7:30pm (Hispanics for LA Opera Night)
Tickets are on sale now. Tickets start at $18 and can be purchased in person at the LA Opera Box Office at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, by phone at 213.972.8001 or online at www.LAOpera.org. For disability access, call 213.972.0777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To download artist and production photographs, click here.
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