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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
North American Works Directory Listing
Florencia en el Amazonas
Daniel Catán
Daniel Catán, Latin America's pre-eminent living composer, was born in Mexico City in 1949. A Sephardic Jew of Russian descent, he spent his first 14 years in Mexico, relocating to England to study philosophy and music. After several years at Sussex and Southampton, Catán moved to the United States, where he earned his Ph.D. at Princeton under the tutelage of Milton Babbitt. Having spent just as many years outside of Mexico as he had growing up there, he returned to Mexico City in 1977 to rediscover his Spanish-speaking roots, serving a term as Music Administrator at the Palace of Fine Arts. In 1994, San Diego Opera premiered his work Rappaccini's Daughter, launching an opera career in the United States that was sealed by the Houston premiere of Florencia en el Amazonas, the most popular new work the company has produced to date. In 1998 Catán won the Placido Domingo award from the Los Angeles Opera. Now a resident of Los Angeles, Catán is currently working on a new "comic" opera for the Houston Grand Opera, Las Bodas de Salsipuedes (Caribbean Wedding).

Although Catán studied under Babbitt, his own compositional voice is radically different, and his works incorporate the twelve-tone system only as occasional structural devices. Catán's music is composed for the heart and ear, and has been frequently labeled neo-Romantic or neo-Impressionist. Puccini, Strauss, Debussy, and Ravel are all names that frequently appear when people describe Catán's music; and though these are certainly apt comparisons, they should not detract from what is a very original and expressive voice. His melodies are rich and expansive, and often take some intriguing turns; drifting along like spun gold or rising into unforced and often blissful crescendos. His command of the orchestral palette is masterful, and his music fairly shimmers with delightful phrases and painterly surprises.

Primarily a composer of operas, his subject matter is frequently derived from "magical realism" and fantastical literature, and some of his sources have included Nathaniel Hawthorne, Octavio Paz, and Gabriel García Márquez.
Marcela Fuentes-Berain
Gabriel García Márquez suggested Marcela Fuentes-Berain as the librettist for Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas, which is inspired by the writings of Márquez. Fuentes-Berain’s many projects include plays, television dramas, and screenplays. Her screenplays for Hasta morir earned her two Ariel Award nominations (Best Original Screenplay and Best Movie Script) from the Mexican Film Academy of Arts and Sciences. Recent projects include television series La casa en la playa (2000) and El derecho de nacer (2001). (courtesy of Seattle Opera)
Vjekoslav Sutej (Conductor)
Francesca Zambello (Stage Director)
Robert Israel (Set Designer)
Catherine Zuber (Costume Designer)
Paul Pyant (Lighting Designer)
Dotti Staker (Wig and Makeup Designer)
Sheri Greenawald (Florencia)
Frank Hernandez (Riolobo)
Yvonne Gonzalez (Rosalba)
Suzanna Guzman (Paula)
Hector Vasquez (Alvaro)
Gabor Andrasy (Capitan)
Greg Fedderly (Arcadio)
October 25, 1996
Houston Grand Opera
Set on an Amazonian riverboat circa 1910, the story explores the love relationships of five passengers, one of whom is Florencia, a famous opera diva about to give a concert at the exquisite Manaus Opera House. She is traveling incognito in search of a long-lost love. Other passengers include a young woman journalist who is paired with the Capitan's nephew; a middle-aged couple whose marriage is in crisis; the Capitan; and Riolobo, a mystical character who takes on many forms. Throughout the journey, the boat and its passengers encounter a range of natural and supernatural phenomena that test their courage and transform their ideas about love and the nature of relationships. The opera is sung in Spanish with English surtitles.
Florencia Grimaldi(s)
Charles H. Parsons, Opera, 1/10/2008; Michael Barnes, Opera Now; Robert Levine,; Fred Cohn, Opera News; William Albright, Opera; Matthias Roth, Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung
SATB Chorus
2 fl(picc), 2 ob, 2 cl(bcl), 2 bsn(cbn) - 3 hrn, 2 tpt, 2 tbn, 1 tba - timp, 4 perc - hp, pf - str(4 vln1, 4 vln2, 4 vla, 4 vc, 3 db)
Neo-impressionistic, harmonically consonant
G. Schirmer, Inc./ AMP Rental Department
257 Park Avenue South, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10010
The Opera Fund Awardee Information
2009 Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Showcase
Florencia en el Amazonas
Lawrence Edelson
Lawrence Edelson
Martin T. Lopez, Josh Epstein
Lauri Stallings

“In literature, magical realism calls upon the reader to suppress his or her perception of reality and adopt the reality presented in the text. The reader then becomes engrossed in a world where the text can be properly decoded. As a production team, it is our job to create a world where the audience’s perception of reality is consciously altered from the moment that the curtain rises so that the story being told can live in the world in which it belongs; a world where what happens in the plot not only seems possible, but natural. It is our goal to create an Amazon where the mystical and spiritual are not out of place: where river spirits sing, where accepting love can overpower death and where an opera diva can transform into a butterfly. Movement and light will play a crucial role in defining this world. We will use a small number of dancers to help create the opera’s environment. A dominant image for me in the opera is water, but what is water in this world? A means for the boat to travel towards Manaus? The vehicle of contagion for the cholera epidemic? Blood in the veins of the Amazon? When one looks at a map of the Amazon, the tree-like branches suggest a maze of capillaries, veins and arteries. The Amazon tells the story as much as it is the setting. Water is not simply the environment, it is part of the action. When Paula and Alvaro fight, the Amazon waters fight back. The river’s rebellion, a reaction to the turmoil in the relationship of two people gliding along its surface, propels the story forward, affecting the lives of everyone on the boat. How do we portray the Amazon River? A character? A part of the plot? The setting? A mystical force? The answer is clear to us: it is all of these things.”
About the 2011 Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Showcase
This bi-annual program is offered as part of OPERA America’s continuing effort to foster emerging opera artists. The showcase, made possible through support from the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund, has been established to bring promising talent to the attention of the field and connect promising directors and designers with those who are in a position to advance their careers. Twenty-seven director-driven teams submitted proposals for consideration in this second showcase round. Four finalist teams were selected by panelists Donald Eastman, designer; Kevin Patterson, general director, Austin Lyric Opera; Tazewell Thompson, stage director; and Diane Wondisford, producing director, Music-Theatre Group. As opera is an intrinsically collaborative art form, the projects chosen were selected not only because they demonstrate the requisite creativity and skill, but because they display true collaboration, creative vibrancy and collective passion.

Each team is given $2,000 to be used toward further research and the production of more comprehensive renderings and models. Up to two representatives from each finalist team receive travel, lodging and registration to attend Opera Conference 2011 in Boston, MA to present their proposals to opera producers at a special session and to network with conference attendees.
Schedule of Performances Listings
Florencia en el Amazonas (Catán)
Friday, January 23, 2015 - Nashville Opera
Florencia en el Amazonas (Catán)
Saturday, November 22, 2014 - Los Angeles Opera
Florencia en el Amazonas (Catán)
Saturday, September 20, 2014 - Washington National Opera
Florencia en el Amazonas (Catán)
Thursday, February 20, 2014 - Boston University - CFA
Florencia en el Amazonas (Catán)
Saturday, January 19, 2013 - Utah Symphony | Utah Opera
Florencia en el Amazonas (Catán)
Saturday, March 24, 2012 - Opera Colorado
Florencia en el Amazonas (Catán)
Thursday, July 10, 2008 - Cincinnati Opera
Florencia en el Amazonas (Catán)
Saturday, April 28, 2001 - Houston Grand Opera
Florencia en el Amazonas (Catán)
Saturday, March 21, 1998 - Seattle Opera
Florencia en el Amazonas (Catán)
Sunday, October 05, 1997 - Los Angeles Opera
Florencia en el Amazonas (Catán)
Friday, October 25, 1996 - Houston Grand Opera

Fall 2014 Magazine Issue
  • Are Women Different?
  • Preparing for Klinghoffer
  • Emerging Artists: Act One

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