The Washington National Opera Presents FLORENCIA IN THE AMAZON, 9/20-28
Washington National Opera (WNO) opens its 2014-2015 season with the company premiere of Daniel Cata?n and Marcela Fuentes-Berain's Florencia in the Amazon, September 20-28 in the Kennedy Center Opera House. This modern romantic drama, the first Spanish-language work WNO has presented in a decade, is inspired by the magical realism of Colombian author Gabriel Garci?a Ma?rquez. WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello revisits her world premiere production with members of her original creative team to present a fresh take on this contemporary classic. Conductor Carolyn Kuan leads the WNO Orchestra in her WNO debut.
Returning after 20 years to her South American homeland of Brazil, opera diva Florencia Grimaldi boards the El Dorado in disguise and heads up the Amazon to sing at an opera house in her hometown. Along the way, she hopes to track down her long-lost lover, a butterfly hunter who has disappeared into the jungle. Beset by storms and a cholera outbreak, Florencia and her fellow travelers are carried deeper into the rain forest, while the perilous forces of love, magic, and nature collide in a mesmerizing battle between truth and longing. Featuring a stunning final tableau, Florencia in the Amazon paints an intoxicating portrait of the transformative nature of love.
Returning to WNO following her electrifying portrayal of Chrysothemis in Elektra in 2008, two-time Grammy Award®-winning American soprano Christine Goerke sings the role of Florencia for the first time in this production. Goerke has won international acclaim for some of the most challenging roles in the soprano repertory, including the title roles in Elektra and Ariadne auf Naxos and the Dyer's Wife in Die Frau ohne Schatten. Earlier this spring she performed scenes from Salome and Elektra with the National Symphony Orchestra, and this summer she has appeared at The Glimmerglass Festival in Ariadne and also served as the festival's Artist in Residence; future engagements include her first fully staged performances of Bru?nnhilde in Die Walku?re at both Canadian Opera Company and Houston Grand Opera. American soprano Melody Moore, who has been celebrated for recent performances in The Glimmerglass Festival's The Flying Dutchman and Houston Grand Opera's The Passenger and Das Rheingold, sings the role of Florencia on September 24.
The cast also includes former Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Norman Garrett as the mystical river creature Ri?olobo; soprano Andrea Carroll, a Bethesda, Maryland native in her WNO debut as the inquiring journalist Rosalba; American tenor Patrick O'Halloran, a current member of WNO's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, as Rosalba's love interest Arcadio; Spanish mezzo-soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera in her WNO debut as Paula and American baritone Michael Todd Simpson (Gaylord Ravenal in WNO's recent Show Boat) as her doomed lover A?lvaro; and American bass-baritone David Pittsinger (The Speaker in last season's The Magic Flute) as The Captain of the El Dorado.
Conductor Carolyn Kuan, the Music Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, leads the WNO Orchestra in her WNO debut. She recently conducted the Santa Fe Opera's American premiere of composer Huang Ruo's Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. Ms. Kuan is one of four women conductors appearing with WNO this season; the others are Anne Manson (American Opera Initiative 20- minute operas and the world premiere of Penny), Nicole Paiement (The Little Prince), and Speranza Scappucci (Cinderella).
WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello has reassembled members of her original creative team, including set designer Robert Israel and costume designer Catherine Zuber, along with new members including lighting designer Mark McCullough and projection designer S. Katy Tucker to create a fresh version of the original production. Also new to the production team is choreographer Eric Sean Fogel, who will direct the movement of five principal dancers- Durell Comedy, Alison Mixon, Christopher Pennix, Matthew Steffens, and Ricardo Zayas-in tracing the El Dorado's journey down the Amazon.
"I am thrilled to introduce Washington audiences to this stunning work, an important addition to the operatic canon, and to re-envisage this production with my great collaborators," said Ms. Zambello. "I am also proud to work again with our two great leading ladies-Christine Goerke and Melody Moore-with both of whom I have such strong and sustained professional relationships."
Florencia in the Amazon opens on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 7 p.m. and runs for five performances; other dates are September 22, 24, 26, and 28. Visit WNO's website for complete production details and casting information.
Washington National Opera's 2014-2015 season also includes a brand-new production of Puccini's classic La bohe?me, the company premiere of Rachel Portman's family opera The Little Prince, an English-language production of Poulenc's 20th-century drama Dialogues of the Carmelites, a revival of Wagner's epic The Flying Dutchman, and an acclaimed new-to- Washington staging of Rossini's Cinderella. A third season of the American Opera Initiative, including the world premiere of Penny by two alumni of the program, continues WNO's efforts to commission new works and expand the American repertory. More information can be found in the 2014-2015 season press release.
Florencia in the Amazon Performance and Ticket Information
Saturday, September 20 at 7 p.m. • Monday, September 22 at 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 24 at 7:30 p.m. • Friday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, September 28 at 2 p.m.
Tickets start at $25 and are available online, in person at the Kennedy Center Box Office, and by calling (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324. Subscription packages for the 2014-2015 season are also available and can be purchased online or by calling at (202) 416-8500.
The Captain Principal Dancers
Durell Comedy Alison Mixon* Christopher Pennix* Matthew Steffens* Ricardo Zayas*
Hair and Makeup Designer
Anne Ford-Coates for Elsen Associates
Florencia in the Amazon Production Information
Music by Daniel Cata?n
Libretto by Marcela Fuentes-Berain Inspired by the writings of Gabriel Garci?a Ma?rquez
New WNO co-production with LA Opera and San Francisco Opera Originally staged by Houston Grand Opera and Cincinnati Opera
Performed in Spanish with ProjectEd English Titles
Cast and Creative Team
* Washington National Opera Debut
‡ Current member of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program ± Alumnus of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program
Florencia in the Amazon originally premiered at Houston Grand Opera in October 1996.
The original production of Florencia in the Amazon was generously underwritten by the Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts, Nancy and Rich Kinder and Sara and Bill Morgan, the Shell Oil Company Foundation, and the Nelda and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation.
Co-commissioned by Houston Grand Opera, LA Opera, and Seattle Opera.
Commissioned in part through a generous grant from Drs. Dennis and Susan Carlyle.
Florencia in the Amazon is an Opera New World production.
Opera New World is sponsored by Philip Morris Companies, Inc.
Scenery for Florencia in the Amazon constructed by Seattle Opera and Cincinnati Opera.
Florencia in the Amazon Related Programs and Events
An Introduction to Florencia in the Amazon
Tuesday, September 9-7 p.m., Mexican Cultural Institute, 2829 16th Street, N.W.
Join director Francesca Zambello and other special guests for a program of discussion and music that explores this modern operatic classic. Singers from the production will preview the opera in a musical program following the presentation. Admission is free but reservations are required. For more information and reservations, visit the Mexican Cultural Institute.
The Making of Florencia in the Amazon
Saturday, September 13-5 p.m., Kennedy Center South Opera Tier Lounge
Join Florencia in the Amazon director Francesca Zambello and other members of the creative team behind this new production for a discussion about bringing this fantastical work to the stage. Tickets are $10.
Opera Insights before every performance
WNO presents a free pre-performance education event prior to every performance in the Opera House. These Opera Insights are led by WNO artistic staff members or other experts and will take patrons inside the composer's mind, behind the scenes of planning a production, and into the history and social context of the opera. These events will begin one hour prior to curtain and last approximately 20-25 minutes. (O-Zone lectures begin 75 minutes prior to curtain and last approximately 45 minutes.) A complete list of participants will be posted to WNO's website.
Opera Insights schedule for Florencia in the Amazon:
Saturday, September 20 at 6 p.m. with director Francesca Zambello
Monday, September 22 at 6 p.m. with director Francesca Zambello
Wednesday, September 24 at 6:30 p.m.
Friday, September 26 at 6:15 p.m.: O-Zone lecture with musicologist Saul Lilienstein Sunday, September 28 at 1 p.m. with director Francesca Zambello
Artist Q&As: Florencia in the Amazon
Monday, September 22 and Sunday, September 28-post-performance, Opera House Join WNO artistic staff for a wide-ranging discussion with the artists of the production. These events are free to patrons presenting a ticket from any performance of Florencia in the Amazon.
ABOUT WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA
Washington National Opera (WNO) is one of the leading opera companies in the United States. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, the company presents a diverse season of grand opera-including both classics from the repertory and more contemporary pieces-plus an annual holiday family opera, several newly commissioned American works, and a variety of special concerts and events. The WNO Orchestra is led by Music Director Philippe Auguin. Founded in 1956 and an affiliate of the Kennedy Center since 2011, WNO has a storied legacy of world premieres, new productions, international tours, live recordings and radio broadcasts, and innovative education and community-engagement programs. Throughout its history WNO has been led by titans in the opera field, including the legendary Pla?cido Domingo, who headed the company from 1996 to 2011.
WNO contributes to the future of opera through two signature artist-development programs. The Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, now in its 13th season, has become one of the nation's most competitive and comprehensive professional training programs for young singers and collaborative pianists. Alumni of the program have won major competitions and gone on to successful careers at major operas houses in the U.S. and abroad. The WNO Opera Institute nurtures the ambitions of high-school-age singers from across the nation during an intensive three-week summer program held at American University in Washington.
Among the company's most successful recent programs is the 2012 launch of the American Opera Initiative, a comprehensive commissioning program that works to expand the American operatic repertory, to give WNO's young artists the chance to collaborate with living composers and librettists on new works, and to make American opera more relevant to 21st century audiences. The most popular of WNO's community-engagement programs is M&M'S® Opera in the Outfield, during which an opera is broadcast live from the Kennedy Center Opera House stage to the high-definition scoreboard at Nationals Park. Last season's simulcast drew more than 10,000 spectators to the ballpark. The company's other education programs include the Kids Create Opera program at local elementary schools, Look-In performances for students in grades 4-8, and the Student Dress Rehearsal Program for middle and high school students. The company also offers free Opera Insights programs before every performance in the Opera House.
To celebrate the company's 60th anniversary, Washington National Opera will present three complete cycles of Wagner's Ring in spring 2016. These performances, featuring an acclaimed production by Artistic Director Francesca Zambello and conducted by Music Director Philippe Auguin, will be the first time the company has presented The Ring in complete cycles in its history.
For more information, please visit the Washington National Opera website.
Photo Credit: Philip Groshong