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Classical 101

Daniel Catan Talks About His Opera "Florencia en el Amazonas"

Daniel Catan's Spanish-language opera Florencia en el Amazonas (Florencia in the Amazon) is based on Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel Love in the Time of Cholera. Set in 1905, the plot revolves around opera diva Florencia Grimaldi, who journeys down the Amazon River to her hometown of Manaus for a gala concert. Along the way she yearns for a lost love, and entwines her life and her loss with her fellow passengers. In this interview Catan talks about Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and the lush and mysterious Amazon at the heart of his opera.

Highlights From This Interview:

[audio src="http://wosu.org/audio/classical/2008/daniel_caton_interview-061008.mp3"] (About Gabriel Garcia Marquez): "His prose is not only music, it's incredibly well-orchestrated. You know the sense of an orchestra where a statement is set-up?; the orchestra sets up a situation when an instrument comes in and delivers a melody. It feels just right. It's framed right. It has the right weight. The right timbre. That's exactly what (Garcia Maquez) does with his prose." "A team of us went down the Amazon to Manaus when we were researching the opera. The Amazon is a world unto itself. The Amazon feels like one of the places that is at the very limit of civilization. Unlike similar places like the desert or the Antarctica, where on the other side of civilization there's nothing; there's barrenness, and there's no life, as it were. The other side of that line in the Amazon is teeming with life. But it's wild, so it's quite a confrontation." "Let me describe civilization, as life becomes more humanized. And by that I mean, it gets a little more cushy in every sense, so that death becomes a little more understandable, life becomes not as (fearful). Now, in the Amazon, none of those filters operate. So you see life in all its beauty, and in all its brutality, as well." "I want (people) to listen to (my music) without any prejudices, and not to worry about the language. Sometimes people feel, 'Oh, it will be in Spanish and I won't be able to understand it.' Not at all. It's an opera that speaks to all of us - anybody that has experienced the glories, the difficulties of love will probably get something out of that. I want them to learn something about themselves through the piece. That's what the role of art is all about."