Florencia en el Amazonas
Daniel Catán • November 9, 12, 15, 17, 2019
Florencia Grimaldi is a famous opera singer traveling to perform at the opera house in Manaus, Brazil, in the early 1900s. She also hopes to find her long-lost lover Cristóbal, a butterfly hunter who has disappeared into the Amazon jungle.
Florencia journeys down the Amazon river by steamship with a cast of colorful characters including an intrepid female journalist and a couple looking to rekindle their love. As they penetrate deeper and deeper into the heart of the Amazon, the passengers and crew realize their voyage is not just a physical journey, but also a mystical one.
Inspired by the magic realism of Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel García Márquez and his novels Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude, Florencia en el Amazonas features lush, melodic music and ever-changing backdrops of mysterious beauty.
These performances have received special funding from The Pittsburgh Foundation.
Ashraf Sewailam+: Capitán
The Artistic Team
Conductor - Antony Walker
Original Concept and Director: Jose Maria Condemi
Revival Director - Stephanie Havey
Original Set Designer - Phillip Lineau
Costume Designer - Elizabeth Poindexter
Original Lighting Designer - Ken Yunker
Lighting Design recreated by - Stevie O’Brian Agnew
Original Projection Designer - Aaron Rhyne
Wig and Make-up Designer - James Geier
Stage Manager - Cindy Knight
Asst Conductor - Glenn Lewis
Chorus Master - Mark Trawka
Associate Coach/Pianist - James Lesniak
Assistant Stage Director - Matthew Haney*
Asst Stage Manager - Alex W. Seidel
Asst Stage Manager - Jin Ah Lee
+ Pittsburgh Opera debut
* Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
** Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni
ACT I. The El Dorado, a steamboat sailing down the Amazon from Leticia, Colombia, to Manaus in the early 1900s. 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 twenty 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 of Florencia 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 her desire to rediscover herself and 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 ship 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 contrasts the growing affection between Rosalba and Arcadio and the escalating 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 knocked 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.
ACT II. 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, which contained all her notes for the biography of Florencia. Rosalba 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.
- Courtesy of Houston Grand Opera
The captain and crew of the steamship El Dorado prepare for their voyage down the Amazon to Manaus to hear legendary diva Florencia Grimaldi at a special concert.
Arcadio (Andres Acosta) tells Rosalba (Natasha Wilson) of his dreams to leave his riverboat career and become an airplane pilot.
Alvaro (Nathan Gunn) orders marinated iguana for his wife Paula (Sandra Piques Eddy) for dinner, and she is not happy about it, much to the amusement of Riolobo (Craig Verm) and the Cabin Boy (Perry J. Gatch, IV).
The Capitán (Ashraf Sewailam) steers the steamship El Dorado through a violent storm which threatens the ship, its crew and passengers.
Riolobo (Craig Verm), who Pittsburgh In The Round aptly describes as the "magical and mystically benign force protecting the travelers through various dangers," appeals to the river gods to calm the storm which threatens their ship.
Rosalba (Natasha Wilson) and Arcadio (Andres Acosta) express their fears over potential negative repercussions should they fall in love.
Paula (Sandra Piques Eddy) expresses her regret at letting her pride hurt her marriage to Alvaro, who was knocked overboard during the storm.
Florencia Grimaldi (Alexandra Loutsion) sings that she can feel the presence of her former boyfriend Cristóbal, who vanished into the jungle while searching for a rare butterfly.
Listen to Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn give a brief synopsis of Florencia en el Amazonas featuring excerpts from this 2002 Houston Grand Opera recording by Albany Records with Patrick Summers conducting the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra:
Click play below or download these excerpts for an offline treat!
- "Act 1, Scene 2" - sung by Patricia Schuman as Florencia with Patrick Summers conducting the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra
- "Act 1, Scene 4" - sung by Chad Shelton as Arcadio
- “Act 1, Scene 5” - sung by Suzanna Guzmán as Paula and Hector Vasquez as Alvaro
- "Act 1, Scene 10" - performed by the cast of Houston Grand Opera's 2002 production
"Act 2, Scene 15" - performed by the cast of Houston Grand Opera's 2002 production
“Act 2, Scene 16” - sung by Patricia Schuman as Florencia and Ana Maria Martinez as Rosalba
"Act 2, Scene 17" - sung by Patricia Schuman as Florencia
- Broadway World: Photo Flash: Get A First Look At The Company Of Pittsburgh Opera's FLORENCIA EN EL AMAZONAS
- Entertainment Central Pittsburgh: November Theater Guide
- Pittsburgh In The Round: Pittsburgh Opera’s Christopher Hahn on “Florencia en el Amazonas”
- NEXT pittsburgh: 16 cool things to do this weekend in Pittsburgh
- OperaWire: Alexandra Loutsion & Nathan Gunn Lead Pittsburgh Opera Premiere Of ‘Florencia En El Amazonas’
- Pittsburgh Magazine: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh in November
- Trib-Live: Entertainment Planner Nov. 7-20
- The Pittsburgh 100: The P100 Podcast - "On sinkholes and sopranos" (interview with Alexandra Loutsion ~ 16:15 into the episode)
- Trib-Live: Preview - Pittsburgh Opera journeys to the ‘magical realism’ of the Amazon
- WQED-FM: Voice of the Arts podcast interviews
- Broadway World: Photo Flash: First Look At Pittsburgh Opera's FLORENCIA EN EL AMAZONAS
- Pittsburgh In The Round: Review - Pittsburgh Opera’s “Florencia en el Amazonas” Premiere a Full-Steam-Ahead Success
- Opera Gene: Review - PITTSBURGH OPERA’S FLORENCIA EN EL AMAZONAS: YOU MUST SEE IT TWICE
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Review - A diva's final aria is transcendent at Pittsburgh Opera
We want you to have the best experience possible at our performances!
- Special Effects Warning - Strobe lights are used in this production (briefly during the storm scene about 54 minutes into Act 1)
- Run time:
Act I – 63:00
Act II – 48:00
Total Running Time – 2 Hours, 11 minutes + Bows
- Download the Florencia en el Amazonas Program Book
- Download our Study Guide
- Understand Every Word: Florencia en el Amazonas is sung in Spanish, but has English supertitles projected above the stage at all performances
- Parking Downtown: get real-time parking availability
- Pre-Opera Talks before each performance
- Audio Description available at The Benedum Center
- Braille Programs available at The Benedum Center
- Large-Print Programs available at The Benedum Center
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has implemented new security and bag policies, effective starting October 1, 2016, at the Benedum Center and their other venues.
You can read their Safety & Security statement, which includes an updated list of prohibited items, and read their Bag Policy, on their website. Their list of prohibited items evolves over time, and can include laptop computers and reusable beverage containers. Please review the current list before heading to the Benedum.
- PNC is the 2019-20 Pittsburgh Opera Season Sponsor
- WQED-FM is Pittsburgh Opera’s Media Sponsor
- Ambridge Regional Distribution and Manufacturing Center is the Tuesday performance and ‘Meet the Artists’ post-show event sponsor
- These performances have received special funding from The Pittsburgh Foundation, and from the following Funds:
- The J. Raymond Price Memorial Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation
- Belle Richards Fund No. 2 of The Pittsburgh Foundation
- Alice Risk Wilson Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation
- John K. Saxman, Jr. Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation
- Nicky Horvitz Gordon Memorial Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation