Critic’s Choice

By David Fleshler

"Self-Portrait with Monkey" by Frida Kahlo, 1938.

“Self-Portrait with Monkey” by Frida Kahlo, 1938.

An unusual evening at the opera is clearly in the works when a company’s own press materials describe the production as “R-rated.”

Florida Grand Opera’s production of Frida, a 1991 work about the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, opens Saturday, continuing the company’s practice of putting on contemporary works with a connection to the culture of South Florida.

Written by the American composer Robert Xavier Rodríguez, who studied with Elliott Carter and Nadia Boulanger, the opera portrays Kahlo’s stormy marriage to the artist Diego Rivera, her leftist politics, her constant physical pain from a horrific bus accident and her devotion to her art.

Starring as Kahlo will be the soprano Catalina Cuervo, who sang the role for Michigan Opera Theatre. Mark Stryker, of the Detroit Free Press, said “Cuervo, a striking young Colombian-born soprano with a strong if sometimes wild voice, inhabited Frida as if she had been born into the role. She sang and acted with a fiery passion that captured the painter’s remarkable life force and sensuality.”

This “passionate R-rated operatic story,” as FGO’s news release puts it, is a combination of spoken dialogue and arias in English and Spanish, with translations projected above the stage.

Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the opera has a “snappy capacity to channel all manner of American music theater tradition. ‘Frida’ enjoys a healthy helping of Weill, Bernstein and Sondheim, with a little Stravinsky, Wagner and Tchaikovsky gleefully thrown in.”

None of the performances will be at FGO’s usual venues at the Arsht Center in Miami or the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale. The opera will open at the Miramar Cultural Center, with other performances at Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale and the Miami-Dade County Auditorium.

Performances of Frida will be 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Miramar Cultural Arts Center; 8 p.m. March 21, 7 p.m. March 23 and 3 p.m. March 24 at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium in Miami; and 7:30 p.m. March 28 and 30 at Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale.; 800-741-1010

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Wed Mar 13, 2019
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