Paul Rosolie: Many of the local tribes believe that the Amazon was created when anacondas descended out of the Milky Way and crawled across the land, carving the rivers.
Rhinannon Giddens: From WQXR and the Metropolitan Opera, this is Aria Code. I'm Rhiannon Giddens.
Alycin Hayes: There were hundreds and hundreds of blue morpho butterflies. These are gorgeous, iridescent blue butterflies.
And then they would fly up and you'd just be covered in a cloud of gorgeous blue butterflies.
Rhiannon Giddens: Every episode, we plunge below the surface of a single aria so that we can understand its depths. Today, it's the glorious final aria, Escúchame, from Florencia en el Amazonas, by Daniel Catan.
Ailyn Perez: Even if you want to negate love, love will find you.
You can't escape it and you don't need to fear it because it births you and it keeps rebirthing you.
Rhiannon Giddens: It's the early 1900s and the steamship Eldorado is making its way along the Amazon River towards Manaus, a city in the jungle heart of Brazil. The great diva Florencia Grimaldi is on board. She has a gig at the Opera House in Manaus, but that's just a cover. She's actually going home to reunite with her long lost love, the butterfly catcher, Cristobal.
Twenty years ago, she left him to make her name as an opera singer, but now that she's achieved all the success and fame that she's ever dreamed about, She realizes how much she misses the man who helped her find her voice in the first place. The steamship, the river, and the mystical Amazonian rainforest are the setting of Mexican composer Daniel Catan's third opera.
Catan had two major fascinations when he set out to compose Florencia in the mid 1990s. One, the sounds of nature, and the challenge of recreating those sounds in music. And two, a literary tradition that has its roots in Latin America. Magical realism. It's a style of fiction that blurs the line between reality and fantasy.
Catan connected with the great Colombian novelist best known for magical realism, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And when one of Marquez's students, Marcela Fuentes Barain, agreed to write the libretto for Catan, this project set sail.
As much as Florencia en el Amazonas is about love, it's also about transformation.
On the ship, Florencia meets lovers young and old, and learns about the turbulent journey that changes us all. She also learns that her love, Cristobal, went in search of a rare butterfly and disappeared into the Amazon, maybe forever. When they arrive in Manaus and a cholera outbreak locks down the ship, Florencia sings her final aria, Escúchame.
It's the ultimate swan song of a diva who's found her voice. So, what exactly is the magic of the Amazon that Catan wanted to capture, and how exactly did he manage to do it? We have four great guests to tell us all about it. First, Mexican American soprano Ailyn Perez, who's making her role debut as Florencia at the Met.
Ailyn Perez: She is the first heroine that I get to sing in my own language of Spanish. It just feels so empowering. I never thought I would see this kind of moment in my lifetime.
Rhiannon Giddens: Next, we have someone who was very special to composer Daniel Catan.
Andrea Puente Catan: I'm Andrea Puente Catan, the widow of Daniel Catan.
I'm also a harpist, director of development at Ballet Hispanico here in New York, and a happy person.
Rhiannon Giddens: Andrea met Daniel in Mexico City when she was 17 years old. They became friends and stayed in touch. Decades later, Florencia en el Amazonas brought them together.
Andrea Puente Catan: Yes. Yes, it did. When I got the position of harpist at the opera in Mexico City, the first opera I played was Florencia.
And then that was it for us, you know.
Rhiannon Giddens: Next up, Alycin Hayes, a writer, filmmaker, and lifelong adventurer. Her book, Amazon Hitchhiker, tells the true story of her journey from Canada to the Amazon Basin, and how she got down the river in a dugout canoe.
Alycin Hayes: I was enamored with the idea of the Amazon, and it was important to me to travel overland to get there too.
So I started in Canada, hitchhiked south and then of course got into the canoe in the Amazon. There are places there nobody's been and nobody knows anything about and that fascinated me.
Rhiannon Giddens: And finally, conservationist, writer, and award winning wildlife filmmaker Paul Rosalie.
His 2014 memoir, Mother of God, is all about his extensive work in the Amazon.
Paul Rosolie: Right now I am kneeling on the forest floor. with my computer as the only light, I'm sitting in complete darkness under 150 feet of massive, ancient, old growth canopy, surrounded by all kinds of wildlife. have my mic, I have my computer, and I have the jungle.
Rhiannon Giddens: Alright, it's time. All aboard the steamship El Dorado. Next stop, Manaus. Here's Escúchame from Daniel Catan's Florencia en el Amazonas.
Andrea Puente Catan: Daniel composed his opera Rappaccini's Daughter first, and this opera happens in a garden. He was enamored with nature and the plants, the insects, and so on. He was looking for another subject for his next opera, and he used to say that he found not only a garden, but the whole of the Amazon rainforest.
Paul Rosolie: When I was very, very young, three, four years old, all I wanted was to be in the woods, in the streams, on the mountains. There was something about large, old forests that inspired my imagination. I used to ask my parents to take me into the woods on weekends, especially on thundery, dark days, so that I could pretend that it was a jungle.
Alycin Hayes: I was 21 years old. I was living on a farm and working to save money to travel to South America. I saved up enough money, I got on a bus to Omaha, Nebraska, and I hitchhiked south across the United States down to... Central America, spent some time in Mexico. Now, I was traveling alone, but every once in a while, I would meet other people that were traveling the same way I was and we would travel together....
Andrea Puente Catan: Well, Florencia grimaldi is a diva, a singer that met her great love, this butterfly hunter in a boat, such as the one that she's traveling in.
Ailyn Perez: We meet Florencia at the top of the opera on her way to the Amazon to search for her Cristobal, her one and only true love. We hear all about her charisma, her long career, and then her big sacrifice because she's just cancelled.
Of major performance at probably one of the most important theaters in the world, Teatro La Scala, to go back to her hometown and the Teatro en Manaus to perform, to perform for her people, for her beloved audience, for her homeland. But it comes with also the purpose of, of reuniting and fulfilling a promise to her one true love, Cristóbal.
He loves her so much and they probably would have been married, happily, but he knows that she has this gift and that she needs to sing. She then promises him to return one day after her successes in embarking on her career and after she gains some momentum as the celebrated operatic diva, and to be together.
Andrea Puente Catan: So she's searching, I think, for her roots. I think what happens in the Amazon is that you see these beings that are there trying to survive. The animals, and the plants, and then the sense that you have and you see constantly in the Amazon, which is the cycle of the living and the dying. So I think that humbles you.
Paul Rosolie: The Amazon rainforest is one of the greatest physical features on our planet. You can literally see it from space. It dominates the South American continent. And it's one of the largest river systems on Earth. Contained in the millions of tributaries that flow across the basin is one fifth of the fresh water on our planet.
Produced by this vast rainforest is another fifth of the available oxygen in our world. In its size and scope, the Amazon is superlative, massive, and unknown. This is a place shrouded in mist. Great ancient trees, covered in mosses, lichens, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians. It's a jungle that's stalked by jaguars.
The lakes are guarded by massive black caimans. The skies are patrolled by harpy eagles. It is known as a place that even today contains corners of this world that have yet to be explored.
Alycin Hayes: When I got to Colombia, I met a couple of Canadian women, Suzanne and Janice, and we started traveling together. On a bus we met two Brazilians and they said, Oh, well we're going to Brazil too, but we're going to go down through the Amazon because there's a shortcut along the Amazon River. Janice, Suzanne, and I, we all thought, what a brilliant idea!
A shortcut through the Amazon. Of course, we had no idea what we were in for.
Ailyn Perez: In Act I, when we see Florencia, you will find a woman who is starting her life anew. You will see her wrestling with a very long monologue about the meaning of her name. Is she only her name? Is that really who she is? This artist?
Andrea Puente Catan: She says, I'm not only my name, I'm more than that.
Ailyn Perez: Can she also be the fully loved woman, maybe? And I think there's a sense that she's so frustrated and upset and wants to hide and wants to change her life completely.
Andrea Puente Catan: She comes from these very egocentric kind of life, where everybody reveres her because of her voice, but not because of who she really is.
Paul Rosolie: Millions and millions of tributaries moving across Amazonia flow into greater tributaries, and those tributaries join even greater rivers that finally, all, eventually empty into the Amazon River itself. If you were to stand on one side of the Amazon River, you wouldn't be able to see the other side.
It's the largest inland shipping lane in the world. Each year in the rainy season, the banks of the Amazon River flood. The forest for 13 miles in either direction can be flooded. The ground vanishes, and every animal has to learn to swim.
Alycin Hayes: We took a long, long bus ride down a winding road that went through rivers and waterfalls and precarious drops on either side, and giant, giant ferns began to grow up on the side.
The landscape changed, and we arrived in this little village. And the next morning, I got up very early and went down to the docks. We saw someone coming in, in a big canoe. These five men had decided to buy a canoe and paddle to Brazil. When they told me that I thought my dreams are coming true. This is my fantasy.
I want to do this. So I decided to join them. The canoe that we got was huge for a dugout canoe. It was at least 30 feet long and quite wide. We fit 10 people and the guide in this canoe.
Andrea Puente Catan: The journey is truly a journey through life. You have these other couples, the young couple, Arcadio and Rosalba, and Arcadio dreams of becoming a pilot. And Rosalba is a journalist. They are going through the obstacles of... Deciding between love and a career. And then you have the old couple that have been together for 25 years and they cannot stand each other, but the truth is that they love each other so much because they have been together for such a long time. And then you have the captain that has a love for the river and for the boat.
Alycin Hayes: In the canoe, there was... There was Jose, who we called Captain Jose Pizarro, because he was going to be the captain of the canoe. He thought himself, really, to be a Spanish conquistador.
He was very deluded. There was Christian, he was French, and he was going to be an attorney when he went back to France.
And there were three Germans. They had all been working on a cruise ship. They were cooks on a cruise ship. They'd never been in a canoe before.
Andrea Puente Catan: And then you have... Riolobo, who is the communicator between nature and the humans, and he also has a tremendous love for the jungle.
Ailyn Perez: He's a holder of the mystery and a voice of nature.
Paul Rosolie: Scientists estimate that there are roughly 400 billion trees standing in the Amazon Rainforest. And that's not counting for the epiphytic bromeliads, orchids, cacti, vines, and various other species of flora that exist in the dark spaces of the jungle. In the rivers, great paku and arapaima swim, piranha famously patrol the waters, black caiman guard the lakes, jaguars prowl through the shadows of the tallest forest.
And in the canopy... Harpy eagles are capable of carrying animals like sloths and howler monkeys. They've even been rumored to carry away small children.
Ailyn Perez: And then there's the magical element or the surrealism.
Andrea Puente Catan: The story is based in magical realism. Magic realism for a Latin American person It's truly, like, this kind of magic is part of your everyday life. Somebody dies and then suddenly you see a butterfly, or you see a bird, or some kind of signal, and you believe it's true.
I believe it's true. So it's very prevalent in the culture.
Ailyn Perez: In Mexican culture, in Latin culture, there's a sense of destiny. For example, if you see a newborn, and the way they lift their arm, not having been around their grandmother at all, suddenly takes on that same gesture, and you think, oh my god, how is this even possible?
It's that. And so you feel, there's a magic connection of destiny, or familiarity, or a connection to ancestors, to nature.
Paul Rosolie: But there is something about the mysticism of the Amazon. When Francisco Orellana and his men made their way down the river for the first time in history, they described a tribe of all women warriors that Orellana said reminded him of the Amazons from Greek mythology.
Many of the local tribes believe that the Amazon was created when anacondas descended out of the Milky Way and crawled across the land, carving the rivers. And giving life to the great trees and every creature in the jungle.
Alycin Hayes: So we hopped into the canoe and we started paddling. We had no maps, we had no idea what we were doing.
'cause there was no phone, there was no internet, there was no email. We just thought, well, we'll travel along and it'll just be, you know, the magical jungle that one imagines when you had never been in it before. And we began to realize how difficult it was going to be because we only had two paddles.
There were ten people in this canoe, packed with huge backpacks, and only two of us could row at the time. And because it was the dry season, the river meandered very much back and forth, like a snake about to coil.
We were heading to Manaus, which was still a long way away. Manaus became the Emerald City, like the Wizard of Oz, Emerald City.
Ailyn Perez: We find out from the captain of the ship that, yeah, he heard of a young man named Cristobal, but he has long since disappeared in the Amazon. And, of course, this comes as a total shock to the heart and soul of Florencia to think that after all these years... The promise that she had made her Cristobal to return, that she may be too late.
Suddenly the whole cast is in a storm. And that storm shakes up every character, revealing the depths of doubt and truths in the hearts of the characters, their longing, their desires, their wants, their likes and dislikes and the things that can be wrestled with.
Paul Rosolie: Rain in the Amazon rainforest is not like rain in the rest of the world. The clouds seem to scrape their black bellies across the treetops, and when the storm comes, seem to enact a vengeance. It's like they want to knock over the trees, to rip the leaves from the branches. The rivers can flood in a matter of hours.
Alycin Hayes: We continued on. Down the river, paddling, and, you know, it was, it was fun for a while. But the sun was very strong, and we were very tired, sweaty, hot, all day. I decided to take a swim. And now you begin to get the mystery of the river, because the currents, it can look completely calm on top, and there can be a really strong current underneath it.
Suddenly there were swirls, and sometimes fish would jump out. I jumped in, and the current was so strong, that I could not, could I only get back to the shore, I could barely stay in one place. So, fortunately, Sergio, one of the Brazilians, he reached over and grabbed me and pulled me out of the water. That was the beginning of my relationship with Sergio when he saved my life.
Andrea Puente Catan: Suddenly, after this long trip, And after a storm, they arrive to Manaus, where she's going to sing. And she cannot disembark, because there's cholera. So, all of a sudden, she's in the middle of this big, humongous river, in the middle of life. And then it's like, now what do I do with myself, with my love? And the last aria, it's really transformational.
Aria, a transformation through
Ailyn Perez: She's asking,
Andrea Puente Catan: Dónde estás, Cristóbal?
Ailyn Perez: Where are you, cristóbal?
Andrea Puente Catan: Vine aquí para perderte de nuevo.
Ailyn Perez: Did I come here to lose you all over again?
Andrea Puente Catan: Te arrebato otra vez la selva voraz?
Ailyn Perez: Were you stolen from me once again by the Amazon?
Andrea Puente Catan: Porque te siento cerca?
Ailyn Perez: Why do I feel you close to me?
After this opening kind of monologue into the air, searching for him, escúchame. Escúchame, listen to me, hear me.
There's something beautiful about that word in Spanish that it also means know me.
There's no other way to listen to me, unless you know me, understand me. And it's all in one word, escúchame.
Love is a very important theme in this opera. Even if you want to negate love, love will find you. You can't escape it. And you don't need to fear it because it births you and it keeps rebirthing you, I think is the essence of what Florencia is trying to tell us and show us. She says,
Andrea Puente Catan: De ti nacio mi canto,
Ailyn Perez: from you my song is born.
And I believe that true love is not selfish. So, I think the biggest gift by Cristobal is that he let her go. As we know that he's a butterfly catcher, he could have caught her, but he knew he needed to let her fly.
Paul Rosolie: When the rivers recede, it's the butterflies that leave the most lasting impression. Lepidopterans in the Amazon number something around 4, 000 across the basin. And when the rivers are low, And streams need to cross open ground to enter the flow. Butterflies leave the forest in great numbers and collect by the riversides in the thousands.
With their proboscises unfurled, they lap at salt and other minerals. When you encounter a cloud of butterflies, as you walk past them, your disturbance causes an immediate flush. The butterflies take to the air in a spiraling vortex of kaleidoscopic color. It's both surreal and fantastically visceral to be surrounded by colors of every kind.
The audible hum of millions of wings surrounding them can create an out of body experience.
Alycin Hayes: I remember looking on the shore and there were Hundreds and hundreds of blue morpho butterflies. These are gorgeous, iridescent blue butterflies, just sort of looking for salt in the sand. And then they would fly up and you'd just be covered in a cloud of gorgeous blue butterflies.
Ailyn Perez: The music then shifts. We get a very simple, almost childlike melody.
Andrea Puente Catan: De ti nace mi canto. Por ti puede cruzar el río tumultuoso de los días.
Ailyn Perez: There's nothing that crosses through the river easily, but her voice can.
She ties the knot. She ties Cristobal's love to how her voice can just soar in nature. She ties his power to embody nature as part of her life giving force and power as a singer and as an artist.
Alycin Hayes: One night, I heard flute music. I didn't know who was playing the flute, but I wandered over and I saw Sergio playing the flute around the campfire. So I sat down beside him, and the two of us, we looked into each other's eyes, and then we looked up at the sky. Now, the sky in the Amazon is, there are no lights anywhere else, so it's just incredible stars, stars like you've never seen before.
The stars were so bright they reflected in the water of the river. You couldn't tell the sky from the river. And that was, that was the first night that Serge and I really felt close to each other.
Paul Rosolie: If you were to sit on the canopy of the Amazon at night, you have a chance to see the heavens in a way that most humans rarely do.
Today, 50 percent of people across the world live in cities where light pollution numbs our connection with the universe.
In the Amazon, it's possible to see blue and purple dust in between stars so multitudinous that there's barely room for the darkness.
Andrea Puente Catan: And there's a moment where Florencia is saying, Sé que me escuchas en la vida o en la muerte. I know that you hear me in life or death. And Daniel uses like a rhythm that is like four quarter notes, like oh, bop.
Bap, bap, bap, and that's time.
Ailyn Perez: You hear the bells toll, as if they're the bells tolling of destiny, or of time.
Andrea Puente Catan: What Daniel cared most about was love and death. He felt that tragedy and sensuality could cohabit, could live together. And I think that's what poetry gave him, that sense of many different feelings converging at the same time. Not like a linear kind of thing, but like a wholesome kind of sensation. And we live it as human beings, you know, you can be happy and at the same time sad.
So I think this is what we see in this aria of Florencia.
Alycin Hayes: Sometimes we thought we would never find a place to camp for the night because the rainforest grew right up to the shore and if there weren't any encampments or any... settlers there, which there weren't sometimes for days. It was very hard. Eventually, we decided we were just going to give up. That's how I felt.
I felt like we're going to give up. There's no way that we're going to survive this. This is a never ending story. We just paddle and paddle every day, running out of food. We were all very depressed and sad. And exhausted and hungry.
And then something amazingly beautiful. We saw some dolphins. Pink. Amazon River Dolphin. One jumped up in front of us. Suddenly there were a school of them. And it became obvious to all of us, without anyone saying any word, they want to lead us somewhere. They're guiding us.
We followed them. And then at one point they stopped. And they started jumping up and splashing and making a lot of noise. I looked over to the shore and there was a man standing on the shore and very soon the rest of his tribe came down to the water and they were all very friendly. They were happy to greet us and so we stayed there.
Paul Rosolie: Pink river dolphins can be shockingly pink. And the amount of lore surrounding Pink Dolphins is as extensive as their reach through the river system. They have been cited as mermaids, and they weave their way into the dreams of people journeying on Ayahuasca. There's an incredible link between Pink River Dolphins and the souls of those departed from this world.
Andrea Puente Catan: Spanish language has very open vowels, so that's why it's so conducive for singers.
Come from the language of Cervantes, of Quevedo, of Neruda, and so on, we can. have a trail of giants. And when you sustain a vowel…
until the last few years, and it's happening more so. But I think that the community that already exists is just going to keep extending. To people who can then look to the stage and to feel like their stories are being heard as well.
Alycin Hayes: When we got to Manaus, and we stayed in a hotel that really wasn't all that exciting, but the most wonderful thing in Manaus is Teatro Amazonas, which is the opera house in Manaus. It was built in the late
1800s during the rubber boom. In the middle of the Amazon, in the middle of jungle, there were no roads to Manaus at that point.
You could only get there by water. This theater had... 196 huge chandeliers made from Murano glass. There were gorgeous tapestries and paintings. There were marble columns. We went to see an opera singer at the Teatro Amazonas that evening. And when you walk in, you felt like royalty because it was such an elegant theater.
Red velvet seats. There were tiers, rows of private box seats all around us. And we listened to this Brazilian opera singer in this incredible theater in the middle of the jungle. It really was a breathtaking [00:33:00] experience.
Andrea Puente Catan: En el viento, en el agua, en el fondo de la selva, en la vida o la muerte.
Ailyn Perez: I hear the beating of your heart in the wings of every butterfly, in every green splendor, in the wind, in the water, in the depths of the jungle, in life or in death.
I hear your pulse in my song's soaring flight.
This moment in the music, Daniel Catan and Marcela Fuentes, I think, found Something that is so perfectly fragile and powerful. It's the fragility of, I don't know if you've ever had to handle a butterfly, but you know their wings, they're so fragile you could almost hurt them if you catch them. And I think that in this moment we're taking the poetry of what Florencia feels in Cristóbal, which is, in every [00:34:00] fragile flapping of the butterfly wings, I feel you in the...
Flight of my singing, in the air, I feel you, and I know you're there. You will find elements that sound like the wind blowing. You'll find elements that it's like a wave of love in Cristóbal's name. It's like it crashes to the shore.
It's love. It's dynamically poetic. And there's an emerald green quality evoked, you know, one of the rarest butterflies. That I think he was famous for catching, had this emerald green quality. Green is so important for South America in many ways. You know, obviously the green of the Amazon, but you have, you know, some of the emeralds in, in Colombian, the, there's even lap lasi that, that [00:35:00] has a tone of green.
So there's, there's a big sense of power and value in that color.
Paul Rosolie: These incredible tropical forests only cover about 6% of our planet's land area. But contain 50 percent of our world's flora and fauna. These incredible, vine laced, mysterious worlds of green contain all the plants and animals you could imagine. They're treasure troves. of biodiversity, of medicine, of indigenous culture, of the untapped potential that we have as a global society.
They are part of our heritage. They are beautiful. They are essential to us on a spiritual level. And they are something that will define our story moving forward.
Alycin Hayes: From Manaus, Sergio and I were traveling together. It was just the two of us. And eventually [00:36:00] back to Brazil, where we rented a house and lived for quite a while. But at some point, I wanted to go back home to Canada. But I was conflicted about leaving Sergio. I didn't really want to leave him. I loved him. But I was drawn even more to adventure. I had to continue my adventure.
Ailyn Perez: I think that Catan's music, much like Dvorak's music, he uses these beautiful ninths and sixths to strike up harmonic language of longing and soaring, and it's just stunning. It's super stunning.
It's as if Florencia's becoming the air, the flutter of the butterfly wings. It's as if Florencia's total... Essence is now feeling all of the fibers of nature, the air, the water, the wind, and she says, there you are, cristobal, Cristobal, I feel you, te siento palpitar en el aire suave de mi cancion, aqui, in here, in, there's something magical as soon as Florencia repeats these three words. Aquí, aquí, aquí.
She releases herself. And the Amazons transform her into a new creature, a rebirth. It's a revelation. Cristóbal was exactly in the air and right in the center of her voice.
Andrea Puente Catan: To finish the aria of Florencia, Daniel uses the first violin with very high notes of the piano, the harp, everything very, very high, and he thins down the orchestration. So it's like, like Florencia's disappearing. And then he ends the piece, not with a tonic, but he ends with a dominant note, which is this.
It's the fifth interval of the scale, and that means in music that it's not conclusive, and that's how he ends.
Ailyn Perez: She's leaving us with her voice, and that voice will always be eternal and be flying in the air with Cristóbal still searching. She's searching, but it's always within her, and I think that they never left each other.
Alycin Hayes: It was hard to leave. I think it was probably harder for Sergio because he was being left behind. And I remember flying over the Amazon as I was flying back to Canada. And as I looked down, I saw the rivers that I'd paddled. And it was like a giant anaconda, a giant snake slithering through the jungle. As I flew away from Sergio, I was leaving behind the jungle and a whole new world that I'd recently discovered.
Paul Rosolie: I've spent the last 17 years learning from the local people, joining them on ceremonial hunts, listening to their secrets, learning their myths. To me, I look at a forest and I wonder what the vast ancient trees know, how many sunrises that tree has seen, how many millions of heartbeats have existed on its branches.
To me, it's that simple. Somehow, in the wilderness, I find the thing that we've lost.That remembrance of where we came from and the recognition of who we truly are.
Andrea Puente Catan: Daniel talks about this in one essay that he wrote about how he composed Florencia, and he talks about kind of like the middle moment in the journey of life, in Mezze del Camino. But it's this moment where you Turn around and you say, what did I do the last 20 years? Who have I become? When you are 20, you have these aspirations and you are thinking, I'm going to be this and that and the other.
But when you are 40 and when you are 50, you already went through the journey. And then you turn around and you stop, hopefully. And think about who have you become? And I think that's Florencia.
Ailyn Perez: Embarking on an operatic career is one of the most courageous things one can do, especially as a woman.
It requires perhaps one of the ultimate sacrifices as a woman, which is you have to Most likely disconnect, if not for a short time, a very long time from your loved ones in order to pursue and to present that gift of Singing these wonderful opera heroines in the opera theaters around the world. And you have to have a certain calling on your heart and in your mind [00:42:00] to read this piece at this time in my life reminds me there always is a sacrifice.
And for me, I've chose a stage and I still believe it's the best part of me I have given and can give, but I think now in my life, maybe I'm a little bit like Florencia, where you know it was a worthy calling, but you really want to make sure you have your one true love.
Rhiannon Giddens: Soprano Ailyn Perez, Harpist Andrea Puente Catan, Writer Alison Hayes, and Conservationist Paul Rosalie.
Decoding Escuchame from Florencia by Daniel Catan. Eileen will be back to sing it for you after the break.
Florencia Grimaldi has journeyed along a river in the Amazon returning to Mano to find her long lost love the butterfly catcher Cristobal. Along her journey, she learns that he has disappeared in the [00:43:00] rainforest while searching for a rare butterfly. In the final minutes of the opera, Florencia sings an ecstatic song of love and transformation.
Here is soprano Ailyn Pérez singing Escúchame from Daniel Catan's Florencia en el Amazonas.
Rhiannon Giddens:[00:51:00] That was soprano Ailyn Perez.[00:52:00]
Well, today's Amazonian adventure has come to an end. If you're enjoying your time aboard the steamship Aria Code, please spread the word and leave us a rating or a review. We love hearing from you and it helps other people find the show. Next time, an aria so iconic that it was launched into space.
Die Hölle Rache from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte.
Aria Code is a co-production of WQXR and the Metropolitan Opera. The show is produced, edited, and scored by Maren Lazian. Mixing and sound design by Matt Boynton from Ultraviolet Audio, and original music by Hannes Brown. I'd like to give a huge thanks for the help recording this episode to the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, where I'm currently an artist in residence.
I'm Rhiannon Giddens. See you next time!
New York Public Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline, often by contractors. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of programming is the audio record.