Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Miracle on Ninth Avenue

Gian Carlo Menotti’s holiday classic, Amahl and the Night Visitors, was the first recorded opera I ever heard. Each Christmas Eve, while decorating the tree, our family sang along with the (still unmatched) original cast version. We knew the recording by heart, right down to the nicks in the LP. Ever since, no matter what the setting or the quality of a performance, I cannot get through it without tearing up.

Detlev Glanert: Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch (UK premiere)

It is perhaps not surprising that the Hamburg-born composer Detlev Glanert should count Hans Werner Henze as one of the formative influences on his work - he did, after all, study with him between 1984 to 1988.

Death in Venice at Deutsche Oper Berlin

This death in Venice is not the end, but the beginning.

Saint Cecilia: The Sixteen at Kings Place

There were eighteen rather than sixteen singers. And, though the concert was entitled Saint Cecilia the repertoire paid homage more emphatically to Mary, Mother of Jesus, and to the spirit of Christmas.

Insights on Mahler Lieder, Wigmore Hall, Andrè Schuen

At the Wigmore Hall, Andrè Schuen and Daniel Heide in a recital of Schubert and Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and Rückert-Lieder. Schuen has most definitely arrived, at least among the long-term cognoscenti at the Wigmore Hall who appreciate the intelligence and sensitivity that marks true Lieder interpretation.

Ermelinda by San Francisco's Ars Minerva

It’s an opera by Vicentino composer Domenico Freschi that premiered in 1681 at the country home of the son of the doge of Venice. Villa Contarini is a couple of hours on horseback from Vicenza, and a few hours by gondola from Venice).

Wozzeck in Munich

It would be an extraordinary, even an unimaginable Wozzeck that failed to move, to chill one to the bone. This was certainly no such Wozzeck; Marie’s reading from the Bible, Wozzeck’s demise, the final scene with their son and the other children: all brought that particular Wozzeck combination of tears and horror.

Korngold's Die tote Stadt in Munich

I approached this evening as something of a sceptic regarding work and director. My sole prior encounter with Simon Stone’s work had not been, to put it mildly, a happy one. Nor do I count myself a subscriber or even affiliate to the Korngold fan club, considerable in number and still more considerable in fervency.

Exceptional song recital from Hurn Court Opera at Salisbury Arts Centre

Thanks to the enterprise and vision of Lynton Atkinson - Artistic Director of Dorset-based Hurn Court Opera - two promising young singers on the threshold of glittering careers gave an outstanding recital at Salisbury’s prestigious Art Centre.

Lohengrin in Munich

An exceptional Lohengrin, this. I had better explain. Yes, it was exceptional in the quality of much of the singing, especially the two principal female roles, yet also in luxury casting such as Martin Gantner as the King’s Herald.

Hansel and Gretel in San Francisco

This Grimm’s fairytale in its operatic version found its way onto the War Memorial stage in the guise of a new “family friendly” production first seen last holiday season at London’s Royal Opera House.

An hypnotic Death in Venice at the Royal Opera House

Spot-lit in the prevailing darkness, Gustav von Aschenbach frowns restively as he picks up an hour-glass from a desk strewn with literary paraphernalia, objects d’art, time-pieces and a pair of tall candles in silver holders - by the light of which, so Thomas Mann tells us in his novella Death in Venice, the elderly writer ‘would offer up to art, for two or three ardently conscientious morning hours, the strength he had garnered during sleep’.

Philip Glass's Orphée at English National Opera

Jean Cocteau’s 1950 Orphée - and Philip Glass’s chamber opera based on the film - are so closely intertwined it should not be a surprise that this new production for English National Opera often seems unable to distinguish the two. There is never a shred of ambiguity that cinema and theatre are like mirrors, a recurring feature of this production; and nor is there much doubt that this is as opera noir it gets.

Rapt audience at Dutch National Opera’s riveting Walküre

“Don’t miss this final chance – ever! – to see Die Walküre”, urges the Dutch National Opera website.

Sarah Wegener sings Strauss and Jurowski’s shattering Mahler

A little under a month ago, I reflected on Vladimir Jurowski’s tempi in Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’. That willingness to range between extremes, often within the same work, was a very striking feature of this second concert, which also fielded a Mahler symphony - this time the Fifth. But we also had a Wagner prelude and Strauss songs to leave some of us scratching our heads.

Manon Lescaut in San Francisco

Of the San Francisco Opera Manon Lescauts (in past seasons Leontyne Price, Mirella Freni, Karita Mattila among others, all in their full maturity) the latest is Armenian born Parisian finished soprano Lianna Haroutounian in her role debut. And Mme. Haroutounian is surely the finest of them all.

A lukewarm performance of Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette from the LSO and Tilson Thomas

A double celebration was the occasion for a packed house at the Barbican: the 150th anniversary of Berlioz’s birth, alongside Michael Tilson Thomas’s fifty-year association with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Mahler’s Third Symphony launches Prague Symphony Orchestra's UK tour

The Anvil in Basingstoke was the first location for a strenuous seven-concert UK tour by the Prague Symphony Orchestra - a venue-hopping trip, criss-crossing the country from Hampshire to Wales, with four northern cities and a pit-stop in London spliced between Edinburgh and Nottingham.

Rigoletto past, present and future: a muddled production by Christiane Lutz for Glyndebourne Touring Opera

Charlie Chaplin was a master of slapstick whose rag-to-riches story - from workhouse-resident clog dancer to Hollywood legend with a salary to match his status - was as compelling as the physical comedy that he learned as a member of Fred Karno’s renowned troupe.

Rinaldo Through the Looking-Glass: Glyndebourne Touring Opera in Canterbury

Robert Carsen’s production of Rinaldo, first seen at Glyndebourne in 2011, gives a whole new meaning to the phrases ‘school-boy crush’ and ‘behind the bike-sheds’.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

A scene from <em>Florencia in el Amazonas</em> [Photo by Tim Trumble]
30 Nov 2015

Arizona Opera Presents Florencia in el Amazonas

Florencia in el Amazonas was the first Spanish-language opera to be commissioned by major United States opera houses.

Arizona Opera Presents Florencia in el Amazonas

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: A scene from Florencia in el Amazonas [Photo by Tim Trumble]

 

Co-commissioned by Houston Grand Opera (HGO), Los Angeles Opera, and Seattle Opera, Florencia premiered on October 25, 1996. Since then, HGO has remounted it and Los Angeles Opera has staged it twice. The Opera de Bellas Artes in México City, as well as Seattle Opera and numerous other U.S. companies have each performed it once.

Daniel Catán composed a melodic score that brings modern tonal music to a fresh group of operagoers who attend the theater for the enjoyment of newly wrought melodies. Part of the inspiration for this story is Magic Realism, a literary style popularized by Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez. The opera’s librettist, Marcela Fuentes-Berain, who studied with Garcia Márquez, imbued her work with elements of the style, which includes the appearance of river spirits and, at the finale, a magnificently colored butterfly. On November 13, 2015, Director Joshua Borths brought Magic Realism to life in the Arizona Opera production designed by Douglas Provost and Peter Nolle.

The lush, neo-Romantic colorations of Catán's orchestration reflect his impressions of the river’s unique sounds. Although his vocal lines recall early Puccini, Catán’s many-layered orchestral sonorities are reminiscent of the complexities heard in music by Richard Strauss, Heitor Villa-Lobos and the French Impressionists. Catán wrote that the greatest of his debts was having learnt that the originality of an opera need not involve the rejection of tradition but the assimilation of it. As a result, he wanted his twenty-first century opera to be a continuation of opera’s melodic tradition. In Phoenix, conductor Joseph Mechavich led a well-constructed and exciting performance of this lush, complex score.

The opera’s title character, Florencia, is a mature singer who returns home to the Amazon after years of success abroad. The music of this dramatic role requires a voice with the spin and polish of youth, however. Although Sandra Lopez was not the quintessential Florencia, she portrayed the role with passion and sang with a strong, resonant voice. Luis Alejandro Orozco was Riolobo, a member of the crew on the ship taking Florencia and several music lovers up the Amazon. Orozco’s charisma and smooth singing introduced the river’s magical world and he told the story with excellent diction. Imbued with the magic of the waters, River Spirits danced Molly Lajoie’s inventive choreography as they appeared and disappeared from its mists.

Susannah Biller was Rosalba, a young woman whose main interest was in documenting Florencia’s biography. Biller’s silvery tones acquired a luminous quality when her character fell in love with the Captain’s nephew, Arcadio, sung by the robust-voiced Andrew Bidlack. His ringing, lyrical tones blended beautifully with the clarity of Biller’s notes. Levi Hernandez and Adriana Zabala portrayed Paula and Alvaro, a couple who had begun to fall out of love. The river worked its magic, however and, as their voices began to blend, they rediscovered the love that had once bound them together. It was the ship’s Captain who led all these passengers on their trip into the life-changing mysteries of the river. Lyric bass baritone Calvin Griffin sang the role with a smooth dark voice as he commanded his beleaguered ship. It was a treat to see this lush, green opera in desert-dry Arizona! I hope Florencia in el Amazonas will make the rounds of many more regional opera companies. I know I would like to see it again in the near future.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Florencia Grimaldi, Sandra Lopez; Riolobo, Luis Alejandro Orozco; Rosalba, Susannah Biller; Arcadio, Andrew Bidlack; Paula, Adriana Zabala, Alvaro, Levi Hernandez; Capitán, Calvin Griffin; Conductor, Joseph Mechavich; Director, Joseph Borths; Lighting Designer, Douglas Provost; Scenic Designers, Douglas Provost, Peter Nolle; Costume Designer, Adriana Diaz; Chorus Master Henri Venanzi; Choreographer, Molly Lajoie.

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):