With this year’s production in New Haven’s historic Shubert Theatre, Yale Opera introduces audiences to the first Spanish-language opera to be commissioned by celebrated U.S. companies and bids a fond farewell to longtime Artistic Director Doris Yarick-Cross.
This weekend, Yale Opera will present a new production of Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas, a work that was first staged in 1996 by the Houston Grand Opera, having been commissioned by that organization in partnership with the Los Angeles Opera and the Seattle Opera. Subsequent productions have generated enthusiastic acclaim from such outlets as the San Diego City Beat, which described the opera as “a game changer,” and Broadway World, which hailed the work's “lush, melodic music and ever-changing backdrops of mysterious beauty.”
The story told in Florencia, by librettist Marcela Fuentes-Berain, follows an opera star who’s traveling down the Amazon River by boat on her way to sing at the opera house in Manaus—and to reconnect, she hopes, with her former lover, Cristóbal. With a nod to the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez, Fuentes-Berain introduces us to passengers who fall in love and others who squabble, unaware of the star in their midst and unprepared for the enchantment that arrives with otherwise fateful circumstances. Catán’s score for Florencia ingeniously connects operatic tradition to the sounds of the story’s South American jungle setting.
Candace Evans, who has directed Florencia en el Amazonas at Indiana University and at the San Diego Opera, will direct the Yale Opera cast and Christopher Franklin will conduct the Yale Philharmonia in three performances at the Shubert Theatre—performances that mark a transition in the life of the Yale Opera program.
Yarick-Cross, artistic director of Yale Opera and Professor in the Practice of Voice at the School of Music, and her husband, bass-baritone and Lecturer in Voice Richard Cross, will retire this spring. They have served on the School’s faculty since 1983 and 1995, respectively.
“With (Doris’) vision and leadership, Yale Opera has become an internationally renowned program where singers come to launch their careers as vocal artists,” Yale School of Music Dean Robert Blocker has said. Richard’s “inimitable teaching style and gift for languages has given generations of Yale Opera students unparalleled lyrical training.”
Yale Opera presents Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas Friday and Saturday, Feb. 14 & Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m., at New Haven’s Shubert Theater. Tickets are on sale now at shubert.com.