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Washington National Opera to Open 2014-15 Season with ‘Florencia in the Amazon,’ Inspired by Writings of Gabriel García Márquez

By Louise Burton l.burton@classicalite.com on Aug 17, 2014 07:51 PM EDT

Washington National Opera has chosen an unusual American opera as their season opener at the Kennedy Center on September 20: Florencia in the Amazon, by Mexican-American composer Daniel Catán.

Soprano Christine Goerke will portray Florencia Grimaldi, a world-famous diva who is returning to her homeland of Brazil for a performance after an absence of 20 years. She takes an enchanted riverboat journey through the Amazon, hoping to find her long-lost lover, a butterfly hunter who has disappeared into the jungle.

The tale is inspired by the magic realism of Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez. Beset by storms and a cholera outbreak, Florencia and her fellow travelers are carried deeper into the rain forest, where the perilous forces of love, magic and nature converge.

WNO will present this Spanish-language opera, with a libretto by Marcela Fuentes-Berain, on September 20-28 at the Kennedy Center Opera House. Goerke will portray Florencia at most performances; Melody Moore will sing Florencia on September 24.

The cast also includes Norman Garrett as the mystical river creature Ríolobo; soprano Andrea Carroll in her WNO debut as the journalist Rosalba, who hopes to write a book about Florencia; and bass-baritone David Pittsinger as the captain of the riverboat "El Dorado."

In this production of Florencia, WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello will revisit her world premiere production with members of her original creative team, with the intent of presenting a fresh take on this contemporary classic. Conductor Carolyn Kuan will lead the WNO Orchestra in her WNO debut.

Houston Grand Opera presented the world premiere of Florencia in 1996. Since then, many American opera companies have programmed this intriguing work.

Zambello said in a statement, "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."

WNO's 2014-15 season also includes a new production of Puccini's La bohème, 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 a 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 about the 2014-15 season is available at www.kennedy-center.org/wno/

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Tagswashington national opera, Florencia in the Amazon, Daniel Catan, Christine Goerke, Francesca Zambello, Melody Moore, Gabriel García Márquez, magical realism, Kennedy Center