“Florencia en el Amazonas” is a 1996 Mexican opera set in the Brazilian Amazon.
Composer Daniel Catán and librettist Marcela Fuentes-Berain tell the story of an opera singer returning home on a riverboat to sing at the legendary Amazon opera house in Manaus, Brazil. She hopes her performance will attract her lost lover Cristóbal, a butterfly hunter who has vanished into the jungle.
“Florencia en el Amazonas” at the Metropolitan Opera
Daniel Catán’s “Florencia en el Amazonas,” a Mexican magical realism love story set on a steamboat in the Brazilian Amazon, is conducted by French Canadian Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and stars Mexican American soprano Ailyn Pérez, Nicaraguan American soprano Gabriella Reyes, and Spanish Canarian mezzo-soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera; at the Metropolitan Opera in Lincoln Center; for eight performances, between November 16 – December 14, 2023. In Spanish, with Met Titles. From $35. metopera.org 🇲🇽 🇧🇷 ~ 🇨🇦 🇮🇨 🇬🇹 🇮🇹 🇳🇮 🇪🇸
The new Mary Zimmerman production (2023) is the Metropolitan Opera’s first work by a Latin American composer, and The Met’s first Spanish-language opera in nearly a century. We are making progress.
“Florencia en el Amazonas” (2023) stars:
- Mexican American soprano Ailyn Pérez is Florencia the opera singer. @ailynperezsoprano 🇲🇽 🇺🇸
- Nicaraguan American soprano Gabriella Reyes is Rosalba the journalist. @msgabriellareyes 🇳🇮 🇺🇸
- Spanish Canarian mezzo-soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera is the opera fan Paula. @nancyfabiolaherrera 🇪🇸 🇮🇨
- Guatemalan tenor Mario Chang is the captain’s nephew Arcadio. @mariochangtenor 🇬🇹
- American baritone Michael Chioldi is the opera fan Álvaro. @michaelchioldi 🇺🇸
- Italian baritone Mattia Olivieri is the narrator and ship’s mate Ríolobo. @mattia.oliveri.baritono 🇮🇹
- American bass-baritones Greer Grimsley and David Pittsinger share the role of Capitán. 🇺🇸
- French Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin is the Metropolitan Opera music director. @nezetseguin 🇨🇦
New York Times classical music critic Zachary Woolfe, called this opera “first and foremost, a tribute to opera” in the manner of late Puccini. Woolfe thought this production was a bit old-fashioned and overdone, but then he’s not Latin. For context, the saints are a real part of day-to-day life for many Latins, and we put on high heels, makeup, and perfume just to go to the corner bodega (store). He did have good things to say about Ailyn Pérez though.
Many of the artists in this performance came up through The Met’s artist development programs. That didn’t happen overnight. It is the culmination of year’s of effort, for which The Met should be applauded.
Go see “Florencia en el Amazonas”. You will love this story if you’re Latin, and especially if you ever truly loved someone and lost them.
And if we want more representation, we have to support it.
This is Mary Zimmerman’s 2023 production. Zimmerman is an American opera and theatre director and playwright. She is a 1998 MacArthur Fellow who won a 2002 Tony Award for “Best Direction” for her adaptation of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.”
- Set by Riccardo Hernández. @riccardo.hernandez.design. 🇨🇺 🇦🇷
- Costumes by Ana Kuzmanic. @anakuzmanic_costume 🇷🇸
- Lighting by T.J. Gerckens. 🇺🇸
- Projections by S. Katy Tucker. @skatytucker 🇺🇸
- Choreography by Alex Sanchez. @alexsanchezdirchor 🇵🇷
- Florencia Grimaldi is a famous opera soprano, longing for lost love.
- Rosalba is a journalist who wants to interview Florencia for a book. It’s a soprano role.
- Paula is an opera fan and Alvaro’s partner. It is a mezzo-soprano role.
- Arcadio is the steamboat captain’s nephew. It is a tenor role.
- Ríolobo, the ship’s mate, is the narrator and intermediary between reality and magical realism in the story. In Spanish, “Riolobo” means “river wolf.” “Lobo” is slang for a playboy. It’s a baritone role.
- Álvaro is an opera fan and Paula’s partner. It is a baritone role.
- Capitán is a bass role.
Florencia Grimaldi broods alone on the Amazon steamboat “El Dorado” whose passengers, including the journalist Rosalba, are traveling to hear her sing, but are unaware that she is the singer.
Journalist Rosalba develops a crush on Arcadio, the captain’s nephew, when he saves her notebook after she drops it in the river.
When a storm hits, the opera fan Álvaro saves the boat, but falls overboard. With the captain dead and his first mate Ríolobo disappeared, nephew Arcadio takes over, but runs the ship aground. First mate Ríolobo appears as a river spirit who calls on the river gods to stop the storm.
After the storm, Florencia feels her lover’s presence, but is uncertain whether it is in life or death. Journalist Rosalba ignores her budding feelings for nephew Arcadio to stay focused on her work. Paula mourns Álvaro. Ríolobo has the river gods return him.
Journalist Rosalba finds her notebook ruined by the storm. While complaining to Florencia about it, Rosalba realizes Florencia is the opera star she wants to interview. Seeing how much love inspires Florencia, Rosalba gives in to her feelings for Arcadio.
When the steamboat arrives in Manaus, a cholera outbreak keeps everyone quarantined on board. Florencia, desperate to see her lover again, is magically transformed into a butterfly for a spiritual reunion with her lover.
Interesting story. It says that love, not work, is the real meaning of life, and that true love is eternal, and will always find a way.
Amazonas is a Brazilian state in the Amazon highlands whose capital is Manaus. The Amazon River also marks the southern border of the Colombian department (state) of the same name.
The story is inspired by “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Colombian Nobel Prize-winner Gabriel García Márquez. One of the great love stories of all time, it was set on a riverboat on the Magdalena River, Colombia’s great river. It’s a story about how true love never dies. When the aging protagonist takes a riverboat journey with the love of his life, he has the riverboat captain fly the yellow flag of cholera, so their journey never has to end.
Regarding “Magical Realism,” some Americans think it is a literary construct, but for many Caribbeans and Latin Americans, it is the real magic of our daily lives. It’s a simple way to explain the most fantastic occurrences. Our opinion is based on living in the Caribbean. Mystical things started happening on our last day in New York City on our way from Colombia to Puerto Rico. The reality of our Caribbean experience reads like a fairy tale.
This is what the master Márquez once had to say about Magical Realism.
It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there’s not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality. The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination.”Gabriel García Márquez interviewed by Peter H. Stone for The Paris Review in 1981
One of the things you will notice if you ever find yourself in the forests of Colombia or Brazil, is the incredible abundance of life in all its forms and colors. You will see and hear things that you never experienced before. You could also say that about the Metropolitan Opera.
¡Bravo! ¡Bravo! ¡Bravo!