Christine Goerke (Florencia) 
We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:
Q: Have you sung opera in Spanish before? In how many languages have you sung, over the years?
A: I haven’t!! In fact, I’ve been working very hard for the last few months so that I don’t sound like I’m singing Italian! I’ve sung in English, German, Italian, French, Czech, and now Spanish.
Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?
A: The Princess Bride—all-time favorite, but I’m was a huge Star Wars geek as a kid—mostly because of an insane crush on Mark Hamill—does that count?!
Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be?
 A: An Eagle.
Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?
A: Becoming a singer via being a clarinet / music education major was quite a bump in the road. I have to credit my stint as a choral singer to Robert Shaw with teaching me how to really listen to all the sounds around you. My teachers, Diana Soviero and Elaine Bonazzi, held my hand as I tried to figure it all out… I’m still trying to do that!
Q: What do you find most compelling and/or challenging about your role in FLORENCIA?
A: I love that Florencia Grimaldi is such a realistic and truthful character. We all have had someone in our lives that make us wonder, “what if?” Our choices all come with consequences. Some of them are good, and some we’d like to change. In the end, we can only move forward having learned and grown from our experiences. Knowing that they are forever a part of our soul and psyche is often gift enough.

Christine Goerke (Florencia)

We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:

Q: Have you sung opera in Spanish before? In how many languages have you sung, over the years?

A: I haven’t!! In fact, I’ve been working very hard for the last few months so that I don’t sound like I’m singing Italian! I’ve sung in English, German, Italian, French, Czech, and now Spanish.

Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?

A: The Princess Brideall-time favorite, but I’m was a huge Star Wars geek as a kidmostly because of an insane crush on Mark Hamilldoes that count?!

Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be?

A: An Eagle.

Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?

A: Becoming a singer via being a clarinet / music education major was quite a bump in the road. I have to credit my stint as a choral singer to Robert Shaw with teaching me how to really listen to all the sounds around you. My teachers, Diana Soviero and Elaine Bonazzi, held my hand as I tried to figure it all out… I’m still trying to do that!

Q: What do you find most compelling and/or challenging about your role in FLORENCIA?

A: I love that Florencia Grimaldi is such a realistic and truthful character. We all have had someone in our lives that make us wonder, “what if?” Our choices all come with consequences. Some of them are good, and some we’d like to change. In the end, we can only move forward having learned and grown from our experiences. Knowing that they are forever a part of our soul and psyche is often gift enough.

Matthew Steffens (Principal Dancer) 
We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:
Q: Have you performed in a Spanish language opera?
A: I have done a lot of operas in my career and have never danced, fought or flown in one that is in Spanish so this is REALLY exciting. I teach dance in Mexico every summer, so it’s fun to continue to work on my comprehension skills.
Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?
A: The important part of Fantasy is that it takes you somewhere. I think Peter Pan and Finding Neverland really did that. While it’s not traditional fantasy, Pedro Almodovar’s films often take me to an altered reality in which i would like to live.
Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be?
A: A cheetah. They’re so gorgeous and fast and focused!
Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?
A: I received a lot of my dance training right here in Washington D.C. at Joy of Motion Dance Studios. Helanius Wilkins was a HUGE influence in my interest in becoming a well-rounded dancer with the ability to do modern & contemporary work. Florencia calls upon us to use LOTS of different styles of dance and meld them together. As an artist, I’ve worked with great directors like Robert Lepage, Bart Sher & Julie Taymor in the opera world. They are SUCH visionaries when it comes to creating an opera, and as a dancer they really connect the story and the singers and the dancers. While we have only been in rehearsal a week, I can already see the importance of that to Francesca [Zambello] and that is inspiring.
Q: What do you find most compelling and/or challenging about your role in FLORENCIA?
A: The most challenging thing is that I have to be a piranha, bird, iguana, the amazon forest—nothing in the human realm—AND, the HUGE BOAT. We envision a lot in rehearsals…”The boat will move here” and until we get into tech and see where it really is, that is very challenging. The most compelling thing is the connection between the dancers and the singers. So often dance is so separate from the show, but in Florencia they are so inter-connected. We are ALL on the same journey down the Amazon and I’m excited for audiences to go on that ride with us.

Matthew Steffens (Principal Dancer)

We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:

Q: Have you performed in a Spanish language opera?

A: I have done a lot of operas in my career and have never danced, fought or flown in one that is in Spanish so this is REALLY exciting. I teach dance in Mexico every summer, so it’s fun to continue to work on my comprehension skills.

Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?

A: The important part of Fantasy is that it takes you somewhere. I think Peter Pan and Finding Neverland really did that. While it’s not traditional fantasy, Pedro Almodovar’s films often take me to an altered reality in which i would like to live.

Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be?

A: A cheetah. They’re so gorgeous and fast and focused!

Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?

A: I received a lot of my dance training right here in Washington D.C. at Joy of Motion Dance Studios. Helanius Wilkins was a HUGE influence in my interest in becoming a well-rounded dancer with the ability to do modern & contemporary work. Florencia calls upon us to use LOTS of different styles of dance and meld them together. As an artist, I’ve worked with great directors like Robert Lepage, Bart Sher & Julie Taymor in the opera world. They are SUCH visionaries when it comes to creating an opera, and as a dancer they really connect the story and the singers and the dancers. While we have only been in rehearsal a week, I can already see the importance of that to Francesca [Zambello] and that is inspiring.

Q: What do you find most compelling and/or challenging about your role in FLORENCIA?

A: The most challenging thing is that I have to be a piranha, bird, iguana, the amazon forestnothing in the human realmAND, the HUGE BOAT. We envision a lot in rehearsals…”The boat will move here” and until we get into tech and see where it really is, that is very challenging. The most compelling thing is the connection between the dancers and the singers. So often dance is so separate from the show, but in Florencia they are so inter-connected. We are ALL on the same journey down the Amazon and I’m excited for audiences to go on that ride with us.

Melody Moore (Florencia – Sep. 24 performance) 
We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:
Q: Have you sung opera in Spanish before? In how many languages have you sung, over the years?
A: I have sung “Vivan los que rien” from De Falla’s La Vida Breve in audition, but never a full opera in Spanish. I’ve sung in only five language so far.
Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?
A: Lord of the Rings - any. I loved the series Gregor the Overlander —the Underlander Series by Suzanne Collins (who also wrote Hunger Games). Also loved the triology called Monsters of Men: Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness and ANYTHING Margaret Atwood ever writes.
Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be?
A: An owl. Quiet, always watching, solitary and wise.
Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?
A: Every teacher that told me what I did not already know about myself—that I had talent, that I had something to say, that I had purpose.
Q: What do you find most compelling and/or challenging about your role in FLORENCIA?
A: Having only one performance in which to impart her story.

Melody Moore (Florencia – Sep. 24 performance)

We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:

Q: Have you sung opera in Spanish before? In how many languages have you sung, over the years?

A: I have sung “Vivan los que rien” from De Falla’s La Vida Breve in audition, but never a full opera in Spanish. I’ve sung in only five language so far.

Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?

A: Lord of the Rings - any. I loved the series Gregor the Overlander the Underlander Series by Suzanne Collins (who also wrote Hunger Games). Also loved the triology called Monsters of Men: Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness and ANYTHING Margaret Atwood ever writes.

Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be?

A: An owl. Quiet, always watching, solitary and wise.

Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?

A: Every teacher that told me what I did not already know about myselfthat I had talent, that I had something to say, that I had purpose.

Q: What do you find most compelling and/or challenging about your role in FLORENCIA?

A: Having only one performance in which to impart her story.

Durell R. Comedy (Principal Dancer)

We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:

Q: Have you performed in a Spanish language opera?
A: This will be the first opera that I’ve performed in where the libretto is in Spanish; I’ve performed in operas sung in Italian and English.

Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?
A: Don’t Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon….AWESOME book about fairies and the myths behind them! :)

Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be?
A:HA! Probably a dog, specifically a beagle!

Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?
A: Working with Mark Morris, the first choreographer I’ve worked with in opera, helped me to see that dance doesn’t have to be mere decoration or entertainment. It can also be used to facilitate the telling of the story, maybe even more than the actual libretto.

Q: What do you find most compelling and/or challenging about your role in FLORENCIA?
A: Wearing only one costume but playing many different characters challenges me to be very specific with how I use my body to portray each character effectively.

Durell R. Comedy (Principal Dancer)

We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:

Q: Have you performed in a Spanish language opera?

A: This will be the first opera that I’ve performed in where the libretto is in Spanish; I’ve performed in operas sung in Italian and English.

Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?

A: Don’t Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon….AWESOME book about fairies and the myths behind them! :)

Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be?

A:HA! Probably a dog, specifically a beagle!

Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?

A: Working with Mark Morris, the first choreographer I’ve worked with in opera, helped me to see that dance doesn’t have to be mere decoration or entertainment. It can also be used to facilitate the telling of the story, maybe even more than the actual libretto.

Q: What do you find most compelling and/or challenging about your role in FLORENCIA?

A: Wearing only one costume but playing many different characters challenges me to be very specific with how I use my body to portray each character effectively.

Robert Israel (Set Designer)
We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:
Q: Have you sung opera in Spanish before? In how many languages have you sung, over the years? A: I only sing when I’m alone or with people.

Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?
A: Wings of Desire, Eight and a Half, and Beauty and the Beast

Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be?A:My Dog

Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?
A:Philip Guston, Mandy Rice Davies

Robert Israel (Set Designer)

We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:

Q: Have you sung opera in Spanish before? In how many languages have you sung, over the years?
A:
I only sing when I’m alone or with people.

Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?

A: Wings of Desire, Eight and a Half, and Beauty and the Beast

Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be?
A:My Dog

Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?

A:Philip Guston, Mandy Rice Davies

Eric Sean Fogel (Choreographer)
We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:
Q: Have you choreographed for a Spanish language opera?
A: In the past year I have worked in two countries speaking two different languages  in rehearsal and operas stretching over four languages.   One of which was bi-lingual.
Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?
A: I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings.
Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be?
A:Easily a Scorpio, also my sign.
Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?
A: I am particularly drawn to operas that focus on the theatrically and musicality and visual artistry equally, which makes one of my greatest influences in the way I approach opera Francesca Zambello.
Q: What do you find most compelling and/or challenging about your role in FLORENCIA?
A: Using the dancers to personify animals and nature allows us to dig deeper into Florencia’s story of transformation. Being able to create a world of Magic Realism blending our principal singers and dancers with the visuals of our design team is so compelling. Not often do you get to create a true world of fantasy.

Eric Sean Fogel (Choreographer)

We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:

Q: Have you choreographed for a Spanish language opera?

A: In the past year I have worked in two countries speaking two different languages  in rehearsal and operas stretching over four languages.   One of which was bi-lingual.

Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?

A: I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings.

Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be?

A:Easily a Scorpio, also my sign.

Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?

A: I am particularly drawn to operas that focus on the theatrically and musicality and visual artistry equally, which makes one of my greatest influences in the way I approach opera Francesca Zambello.

Q: What do you find most compelling and/or challenging about your role in FLORENCIA?

A: Using the dancers to personify animals and nature allows us to dig deeper into Florencia’s story of transformation. Being able to create a world of Magic Realism blending our principal singers and dancers with the visuals of our design team is so compelling. Not often do you get to create a true world of fantasy.

Alison Mixon (Principal Dancer)

We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:

Q: Have you performed in a Spanish language opera?
A: I’ve never danced in an opera sung in Spanish. Fortunately, dance is a universal language. :)

Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?
A: Does Game of Thrones count as “fantasy”? I’ve read all of the books and love the HBO series. My favorite fantasy film is Stardust. As a child, I adored all of Roald Dahl’s books, especially The BFG.

Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be? 
A: My spirit animal would definitely be a dolphin.

Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?
A: I’m constantly influenced by everything around me. Watching a good movie, reading a thought-provoking book, listening to beautiful music, working with talented artists, even enjoying a glass of wine inspires me. As a young dancer, my first ballet teachers, Gladisa Guadalupe and Ellen Costanza, and the dancers of Cleveland San Jose Ballet were a great inspiration to me.

Q: What do you find most compelling and/or challenging about your role in FLORENCIA?
A: The most compelling and/or challenging part of my role is that it’s original, which also makes it so exciting! It’s a dream come true to dance an original role with choreography that’s customized specifically for me. I’m so honored and grateful that Eric chose me to embody this beautiful role.

Alison Mixon (Principal Dancer)

We asked the cast and crew of Florencia in the Amazon to ponder a few questions in preparation for their upcoming roles. Here are their answers:

Q: Have you performed in a Spanish language opera?

A: I’ve never danced in an opera sung in Spanish. Fortunately, dance is a universal language. :)

Q: Part of FLORENCIA’s magic is its element of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy novels and films?

A: Does Game of Thrones count as “fantasy”? I’ve read all of the books and love the HBO series. My favorite fantasy film is Stardust. As a child, I adored all of Roald Dahl’s books, especially The BFG.

Q: In the magical realism of Florencia, the river and the jungle is full of spirits. What would your spirit animal be?

A: My spirit animal would definitely be a dolphin.

Q: What were some of your most important influences on your path to becoming an opera artist?

A: I’m constantly influenced by everything around me. Watching a good movie, reading a thought-provoking book, listening to beautiful music, working with talented artists, even enjoying a glass of wine inspires me. As a young dancer, my first ballet teachers, Gladisa Guadalupe and Ellen Costanza, and the dancers of Cleveland San Jose Ballet were a great inspiration to me.

Q: What do you find most compelling and/or challenging about your role in FLORENCIA?

A: The most compelling and/or challenging part of my role is that it’s original, which also makes it so exciting! It’s a dream come true to dance an original role with choreography that’s customized specifically for me. I’m so honored and grateful that Eric chose me to embody this beautiful role.