In the World

Green School co-hosts program with Florida Grand Opera and Coral Gables Congregational Church

By Maria Gil

Opera voices echoed through the halls of the Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ as they gave the audience a glimpse of Daniel Catán’s critically acclaimed opera, Florencia en el Amazonas.

“Metamorphosis: Reflections on the Human Journey” featured a unique spoken word program set against the vibrant and luminous music of Catán’s masterpeice, which is the first Spanish-language opera commissioned by a major U.S. opera company.

“Catán’s work invites us to reflect deeply on the human condition,” said John F. Stack, Jr. founding dean of the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs. “The joys and sorrows of life are our intractable connection to the natural world and its forces.”

The Green School worked alongside the Florida Grand Opera (FGO), the Coral Gables Congregational Church and FIU scholars to bring the special “Metamorphosis” program to life.

FGO artists sang excerpts of Florencia en el Amazonas, giving the audience an understanding of the journey the characters went through. FIU scholars shed light on the hidden symbols and meanings of the opera, as they continued the story through spoken word.

“[Metamorphosis] is an extraordinary opera because it ties directly to a literary movement of the 20th century — magical realism. It weaves a rather simple story of a group of people on a boat on their way to an opera house in Manaus… yet everything is a metaphor,” said Philip Piers, director of artistic admiration of FGO.

The opera – and the program – followed these ordinary people as they travelled through the river in a steamboat where everything quickly became grand and almost magical. Their journey became more than a physical journey, but a spiritual and emotional one through the usage of magical realism.

Maria Sol Echarren, who is earning her Ph.D. in Spanish at FIU and participated in the program through spoken word, said the artistic expression of magical realism was used by Catán to demonstrate the carnal and spiritual side of life and death.

“Magical realism is regarded as a highly detailed realistic story intertwined with something too strange to believe,” she said. “Yet, it is hidden so well that we accept it.”

This event was sponsored by the Florida Grand Opera and supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. It was co-sponsored by the Program in the Study of Spirituality, Department of Modern Languages and College of Communication, Architecture + the Arts.

To watch the full event, click here.