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Wednesday, January 23, 2013



SALT LAKE CITY— Utah Opera will present Daniel Catán’s new romantic Spanish-language opera “Florencia en el Amazonas,” a lush musical voyage about the transformative power of love, January 19, 21, 23 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. and January 27 at 2 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre.

Set in the Amazon, the story follows Florencia Grimaldi, an opera diva who returns to her homeland for a special performance at the opera house in Manaus. She hopes that during her visit she will find her long-lost love, Cristóbal, a butterfly collector who has disappeared in the jungle. On the journey, mystical forces show Florenica and her fellow travelers just how powerful love can be. Reality and fantasy intertwine as regrets transform into inextinguishable hope.

“Florencia en el Amazonas” is the first Spanish-language opera commissioned by major opera houses in the U.S. (premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in 1996), and is inspired by the “Magical Realism” style and writings of Nobel Prize-winning Columbian author Gabriel García Márquez (“Love in the Time of Cholera”).

Cast members include Utah favorite Cynthia Clayton as Florencia, Nmon Ford as Riolobo, and Hector Vasquez – who performed the role of Alvaro in the world premiere of “Florencia en el Amazonas” in Houston, as Capitán. Directed by Jose Maria Condemi and conducted by James Lowe, the opera will be sung in Spanish with English supertitles. The performance will last approximately two hours with one 20-minute intermission.

Utah Opera Principal Coach Carol Anderson will offer an Opera Prelude Lecture, free of charge, in the front of the orchestra seating level of Capitol Theatre (50 West 200 South) one hour before curtain of each performance.

Utah Opera Artistic Director Christopher McBeth will hold a Q&A session, free of charge, immediately following each performance in the Founders room on the mezzanine level at Capitol Theatre (50 West 200 South).

This performance is part of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s “Florencia Festival,” celebrating the cultures and arts of Latin America. More information about this educational humanities festival and learning resources about the opera can be found online:

Single tickets for the performances range from $13 to $78 and can be purchased by calling (801) 355-ARTS(2787), in person at the Abravanel Hall ticket office (123 West South Temple) or by visiting www.utahopera.org.  Discounted student tickets will be available on the date of the performance.  Season ticket holders and those desiring group discounts should call (801)533-NOTE(6683).  All ticket prices are subject to change and availability.  Ticket prices will increase $5 when purchased on the day of the performance. 

            Composed by Daniel Catán
            Liberetto by Marcela Fuentes-Berain
            Based on the writings of Gabriel Garcia Márquez
Scenery for this production was built by and rented from Opera Colorado


Florencia Grimaldi                              Cynthia Clayton
Capitán                                                Hector Vasquez
Rosalba                                               Andrea Carroll
Riolobo                                                Nmon Ford
Arcadio                                                Jason Baldwin
Paula                                                   Kirstin Chávez
Alvaro                                                 Christopher Clayton


Conductor                                            James Lowe
Director                                                Jose Maria Condemi
Set Designer                                        Phillip Lienau
Costume Designer                                Elizabeth Poindexter
Lighting Designer                                Nicholas Cavallaro
Video Designer                                                xxx
Wigs and Make-up Designer                 Yancey Quick
Chorus Master                                      Susanne Sheston
Musical Preparation                           Carol Anderson
Guest Coach                                        Grant Loehnig
Stage Manager                                    Rachel Henneberry                             
Assistant Stage Manager                     Michael Currey


On the riverbank, Riolobo, a mystical character who can assume many forms,
excitedly announces that the El Dorado is bound for the opera house in Manaus.
There, the legendary opera diva Florencia Grimaldi, who has not set foot in her
native South America for 20 years, will give a concert to reopen the theater. From
among the crowds lining the riverbank and selling their local wares, we glimpse
the ship’s passengers coming aboard: a young journalist, Rosalba, who is working
on a biography about Grimaldi; Paula and Alvaro, a middle-aged couple journeying
to hear Grimaldi in hopes of rekindling their marriage; and the diva herself,
traveling incognito.

As the ship pulls away from the busy port, Florencia reflects on the emptiness
of her life, and she longs to rediscover herself and find her long-lost lover, Cristóbal,
a butterfly hunter in search of the rare Emerald Muse. Rosalba’s notebook is rescued
from the river by the Capitán’s nephew, Arcadio, and they exchange confidences
about their longings and desires. Alvaro and Paula attempt to dine on deck, but
misunderstandings about the exotic menu lead only to bitter exchanges.

Florencia, awakened by the sounds of the jungle, learns from the Capitán that the
butterfly hunter has disappeared into the jungle without a trace. Later, a tempestuous
game of cards reveals the growing affection between Rosalba and Arcadio and the
increasing tension between Paula and Alvaro. A violent storm quickly develops and
the ship is carried helplessly in the rushing currents in a downpour of pink rain.
Alvaro saves the boat from being crushed by tree trunks but is plunged overboard.
With the Capitán unconscious, Riolobo appears in the guise of a river-spirit and
implores the mercy of the gods of the river. Arcadio ably takes the helm but is unable
to stop the forces of nature as the ship runs aground.

In the quiet after the storm, Florencia wonders whether she is alive or dead.
Arcadio and Rosalba rejoice to find they have survived the storm but, frightened
by the intensity of their feelings for each other, vow not to fall in love and risk
disillusionment. Paula laments the loss of Alvaro, recognizing that the wall between
them was pride — not a lack of love. Riolobo once again calls upon the mystical and
transformative powers of the Amazon. Suddenly Alvaro is returned to the boat,
explaining that Paula’s voice called him back from the brink of death. On behalf of
all the passengers, Florencia thanks him for saving their lives and they resume their
journey to Manaus.

Rosalba finds her ruined notebook containing all her notes for the biography of
Florencia. She is distraught by the loss of two years’ work, but Florencia tells her she
has lost nothing irreplaceable. The two women begin to argue about the source of
Grimaldi’s talents, and when Florencia passionately declares that the diva’s gift sprang
from her love for a man, Rosalba suddenly realizes the woman standing before her is
the opera singer herself.

With both pairs of lovers reconciled to their need for each other, the ship is about
to reach Manaus when it is discovered that no one may disembark because of a
cholera epidemic. In despair at being unable to fulfill her search, Florencia’s spirit
drifts toward Cristóbal in a mystical reunion.


Cynthia Clayton (California)
Florencia Grimaldi
Most Recently at Utah Opera, Falstaff
Madama Butterfly, Intermountain Opera;
 Il Trovatore, Opera Grand Rapids;
 Madama Butterfly, Houston Grand Opera
Otello, West Bay Opera and Festival Opera co-production

Hector Vasquez (California)
Utah Opera Debut
La Bohéme, Houston Grand Opera;
Florencia en el Amazonas, Opera Colorado;
Falstaff, Moores Opera Center
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Metropolitan Opera

Andrea Carroll (Maryland)
Utah Opera debut
La Bohéme, Houston Grand Opera;
Don Giovanni, Wolf Trap Opera;
Le Nozze di Figaro, Fort Worth Opera
Trial by Jury, Houston Grand Opera

Nmon Ford (California)
Most Recently at Utah Opera, Carmen
Don Giovanni, Teatro Comunale di Bologna;
Attila, Sferisterio Festival, Italy;
Tosca, Hamburg State Opera;
Les pêcheurs de perles, Detroit Opera Theater;
Carmen, Teatro Sociale di Rovigo
Salome, Opéra National de Bordeaux;
Macbeth, Long Beach Opera

Jason Baldwin (Colorado)
Most Recently at Utah Opera, Der fliegende Holländer
Madama Butterfly, Opera Fort Collins;
La Bohème, Asheville Lyric Opera;
Carmen, Utah Festival Opera
La Bohème, Loveland Opera

Kirstin Chávez (New Mexico)
Most Recently at Utah Opera, Cosi fan Tutte
Carmen, Opera Queensland;
Carmen, Grazer Opera;
Dead Man Walking, Tulsa Opera
Rape of Lucretia, Opera di Firenze

Christopher Clayton (Utah)
 Most Recently at Utah Opera, Little Women
La Bohème, Opera Idaho;
 Carmina Burana, Utah State Universtiy;
Trouble in Tahiti, Portland Opera
Die Fledermaus, Opera Theatre of the Rockies

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