The production by Mexican composer Daniel Catán marks the first time in almost a century that the Met is presenting an opera in Spanish. The leading role is portrayed by Mexican-American soprano Ailyn Pérez.
“With ‘Florencia en el Amazonas,’ you see Latino culture in the thinking and portrayal of those cultural ideas and values of nature and storytelling told for the first time as well in Spanish. It feels like the epic change that we’ve been longing for for many years, and it’s just the beginning,” Pérez said.
Catán’s widow, Andrea Puente-Catán, said she believes the production will help open the doors for opera in Spanish in the United States and bring more Latinos to opera houses around the country.
“It speaks not only to Latin American people, but to other American audiences, and it’s kind of universal, the subject of love,” she said. “And if you combine that with the magic realism of the characters inspired by [Gabriel] García Márquez, then you have this kind of concoction of an opera that everyone loves.”
For Pérez, who stars as Florencia, the production represents a promise by the Met to build bridges in order to reach new audiences. It has also been a challenge, but one she has welcomed.
“I’ve had arguments with the composer out loud complaining about some of the music because it’s challenging to sing,” she said. “But then I reorganize myself and say, ‘Oh Daniel, thank you. It’s perfect.’”
Pérez has been a star for quite some time now, having made her debut at the Met in 2015. But Florencia, for this proud Latina, feels different, a groundbreaking production and the highlight of a lifetime.
“There’s joy, there’s longing to connect to a community and to reflect this beautiful community through the voices in our cast, and there’s a knowing that more operas in Spanish will be coming to the Met very soon,” she said.
“Florencia en el Amazonas” opens at the Met on Thursday, Nov. 16