In Review: Alvarez, Zabala, Montenegro, Hernandez, and Mechavich in San Diego "Florencia"

"But the most magical element of all in Daniel Catán’s magical-realism opera is the singing.Soprano Elaine Alvarez is stunning in her role debut as Florencia, a world-famous but heartbroken opera singer returning to the wilds of her native Brazil to find her lost love. Her rich, supple voice glides and soars effortlessly through the florid, note-rich score and she acts the role with a sensitivity and emotional conviction normally seen only in veterans of a role. And supporting her most impressively as the young lovers Rosalba and Arcadio are soprano María Fernanda Castillo and tenor Daniel Montenegro, whose large, crisp voices blend beautifully with Alvarez’s creamy sound. . . Catán’s well-orchestrated score is gorgeously filled with the colors of the Amazon. Under the nuanced conducting of Joseph Mechavich, you can hear the shimmering of the river water in the strings, the wind and the birds in the woodwinds, the rhythm of the paddleboat’s engines in the percussion and, very subtly, the soul of Latin America in the marimba and steel drums."

-The San Diego Union-Tribune

Read full review. "In the title role of Florencia Grimaldi, Elaine Alvarez employed her ample, plush, verismo-honed soprano to thrilling effect in each of her big solo arias—Catán aptly gave his opera star leading lady an extended aria in each act. . . she carried off Grimaldi’s innate dignity with cool security. . . Tenor Daniel Montenegro as Arcadio, the Boat Captain’s nephew and admirer of Rosalba, sang the aspiring swain with ardent grace and dash. . . Baritone Levi Hernandez and mezzo-soprano Adrina Zabala as the bickering long married couple traveling to Manuas with the rest of the boat’s travelers sang with sleek assurance. The rich sonority of Hernandez’s baritone announced itself early in the opera, but we had to wait until near the end for Zabala to open up the compelling breadth of her mezzo. . . Catán gave the orchestra Wagnerian importance, and Mechavich rallied his forces with consummate skill, providing commanding, lush waves of sonic allure, giving full flight to the composer’s sophisticated orchestration." -San Diego Story

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"Under the baton of Joseph Mechavich, the San Diego Symphony transports us to this other world, dexterously lulling us with the murmur of the water and the beauty of the sun-and moon-rise, then unsettling the surface calm with the ferocity of the storm and the menace of the cholera epidemic on land. . . The singing is potent throughout, and the acting is strong as well. . . Alvarez’s soprano is rich, full and supple, with stratospheric top-notes. She soars throughout, but especially at the end, when she makes a most magical transformation. . . Mezzo-soprano Zabala brings a kind of world-weary maturity to her musical moments of sorrowful regret and joyful reunion." -Times of San Diego

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