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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.

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  • 2013

Largo al factotum" from Gioachino Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia: a study in ornamentation and performance practice

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From the time it was written, the aria "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia has been performed and ornamented in many different ways. The present study is

From the time it was written, the aria "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia has been performed and ornamented in many different ways. The present study is an inventory and analysis of ornaments sung in 33 recordings from 1900 to 2011 and the major differences that they exhibit one from another. The singers in this study are baritones with international careers, who have performed the role of Figaro either at the Metropolitan Opera (New York) or at La Scala (Milan). The study identifies and tracks some of the changes in the ornamentation of the aria by noting common traits and new approaches across the one hundred eleven years of practice illustrated by the recordings.

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  • 2014