Christine Goerke and cast, Florencia en el Amazonas, Washington National Opera (photo by Scott Suchman)
An opera company's choice of a season opener may make a statement, but it may not mean what one thinks it means. Washington National Opera, now firmly under the artistic aegis of Francesca Zambello, chose to open its season with Florencia en el Amazonas, premiered in 1996 by Mexican composer Daniel Catán (1949-2011). On one hand, the choice shows a commitment to contemporary opera, especially in a season that also includes Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites, from 1956; on the other hand, both works could be described as half-concessions to a conservative audience, since neither composer's style goes much beyond what one finds in the work of Debussy. Whatever the significance of the choice, Florencia is an audience-pleasing work, one of the most successful new operas of the last thirty years, creating a sense of enormous promise on which Catán seemed unable to capitalize, producing only one other major
D. Catán, Florencia en el Amazonas, P. Schumann, M. Doss, Houston Grand Opera, P. Summers (Albany Records, 2002)
Anne Midgette, ‘Florencia in the Amazon’ with Goerke: An ephemeral dream in first WNO outing (Washington Post, September 22)
---, Christine Goerke: WNO’s ‘Florencia’ star talks about singing (Washington Post, September 12)
Philip Kennicott, Florencia en el Amazonas at the WNO (philipkennicott.com, September 21)
Roland Flamini, D.C. opera raises curtain with work inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Washington Times, September 22)
This production continues through September 28, in the Kennedy Center Opera House. Melody Moore replaces Christine Goerke on September 24.