Catching up with Maestro Neely

Hi DMMO fans,

I am enjoying being in residence here in lovely, leafy Bloomington, Indiana at the renowned Jacobs School of Music preparing what will be a lavish production of Mexican composer Daniel Catán’s masterwork Florencia en el Amazonas, on a stage the size of the Met’s!


About the show: Catán’s best-known work, Florencia in the Amazon captures the magical-realist world of Columbian nobel-winning writer Gabriel Garcia-Márquez. Marquez’ assistant, Marcela Fuentes-Berain, created a compelling text that incorporates elements from across Marquez’ works that is perfect for the operatic stage. Catán’s sweeping, cinematic score perfectly captures this world. It combines beautiful vocal writing, impressionistic orchestration, Wagnerian-style leitmotifs, Latin-American popular music, and naturalistic effects to place us in the dense and mysterious Amazon. He creates a lush and layered musical dream state of great beauty that is pleasing to the ear and soul. Conducting Florencia feels a bit like flying, and that is what I hope the audience here will feel.

The production team here is first-rate and the Jacobs School is placing this show in the forefront of their season with a live-stream contract for opening weekend. I have to acknowledge the talent and enthusiasm of the student singers, including those in the chorus (who are onstage as various creatures for most of the show), and the orchestra. It’s been very rewarding to watch the production grow over the past several weeks. It promises to be a great show.

Florencia is 20 years old this month. Catán passed away unexpectedly in 2011 while working on a new opera that was never finished.

-David Neely, The Marshall and Judy Flapan Music Director & Principal Conductor


Live stream performances are Oct 15 & 16 at 7:30pm

FLASHBACK: As part of its Second Stages Series in 2015, Des Moines Metro Opera also presented an opera by Daniel Catán, La Hija de Rappaccini,  at the Des Moines Botanical Garden!



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