Florencia Grimaldi: Latin America's soprano heroine

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Although opera is the last musical genre one typically associates with Latin America, Mexican composer Daniel Catán (1949-2011) found surprising success across the United States and overseas with his opera

Although opera is the last musical genre one typically associates with Latin America, Mexican composer Daniel Catán (1949-2011) found surprising success across the United States and overseas with his opera Florencia en el Amazonas (1996). Catán blends colorful music with literary elements to create a representation of Latin American culture through language, drama, scenery, and music. Among these elements is realism mágico (magical realism), a significant characteristic of Latin American literature. Indeed, the plot of the opera is influenced by Gabriel García Márquez's novel, El amor en los tiempos del cólera (Love in the Time of Cholera, 1985), as well as the poem "Mariposa de obsidiana" (Obsidian Butterfly, 1951) and the short story "La hija de Rappaccini" (Rappaccini's Daughter, 1953), both by Octavio Paz. To create his protagonist in the opera, Florencia Grimaldi, Catán combines the dramatic qualities of several European soprano heroines. This figure's character development is conveyed largely through her Act I, Scene 2, aria, "Florencia Grimaldi," and her Act II, Scene 17, aria, "Escúchame." An overview of the opera places these two arias into context, and their musical content and text-setting are closely examined in relation to the character of Florencia. Finally, how Daniel Catán creates a soprano heroine from the Latin American perspective is discussed.