A major theme of the work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez is romantic love in all its forms, from ideal to pathological. His great masterpiece, Love in the Time of Cholera, uses magical realism to tell the complicated love story of its heroine, Fermina Daza. Mr. Marquez received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982 for work in which “the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts.”
The composer Daniel Catan and librettist Marcela Fuentes-Berain were inspired by the work of Mr. Marquez to create the opera, Florencia en el Amazonas. Here this theme is developed in the character of the diva Florencia Grimaldi as she searches for her lost love. Florencia premiered in Houston in 1996 and has since become one of the most frequently performed Spanish-language operas in the repertoire.
This course will look at the work of Mr. Marquez and its relationship to Mr. Catan’s opera. Participants will also see a dress rehearsal of Florencia. The original production by Francesca Zambello with sets by Robert Israel and costumes by Catherine Zuber will be complemented by updated choreography by Eric Sean Fogel and video projections by S. Katy Tucker.
Thursday, January 10: Patrick Summers will lead an in-depth discussion of Daniel Catan’s lush musical score, the story of the opera singer Florencia Grimaldi including its elements of magical realism, and the fascinating story of the original commission and creation of the work at HGO.
Tuesday, January 15: Dress rehearsal, Florencia en el Amazonas
Tuesday, January 22: Lois Zamora will help define magical realism. The group will read two stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings and Light is Like Water, and consider them as examples of the mode. Essays on the author’s parents, which are considered the basis for his novel Love in the Time of Cholera, will also be read.
Tuesday, January 29: Lois Zamora will lead a discussion of Love in the Time of Cholera and consider its relationship to Daniel Catan’s opera Florencia en el Amazonas.
Patrick Summers is artistic and music director of the Houston Grand Opera where he holds the Margaret Alkek Williams chair. He has conducted more than 60 operas at HGO. Some highlights include the company’s first-ever complete cycle of Wagner’s Ring and its first performances of the Verdi Requiem. He has collaborated on a number of world premieres and has nurtured the careers of many now well-known artists, including Joyce DiDonato, Christine Goerke, and Ana Maria Martinez, who will appear in Florencia.
Lois Parkinson Zamora is professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Houston, where she holds a Moores Distinguished Professorship. She frequently writes about the visual arts and their relationship to literature, most recently in The Inordinate Eye: New World Baroque and Latin American Fiction, published by University of Chicago Press, and Baroque New Worlds: Representation, Transculturation, Counterconquest, co-edited with Monika Kaup and published by Duke University Press.