Composer and librettist Daniel Catán *77 has created a handful of well-regarded operas, including Florencia en el Amazonas, which premiered in 1996 as the first Spanish-language opera commissioned by a major American company, and Salsipuedes, A Tale of Love, War, and Anchovies, which debuted at the Houston Grand Opera in 2004. But Catán’s newest work may be his most-anticipated: Il Postino, a Spanish-language operatic adaptation of the Academy Award-winning 1994 film (and the 1985 novel Ardiente Paciencia, which inspired the movie), will debut Sept. 23, opening the 25th anniversary season of the Los Angeles Opera.
Superstar tenor Plácido Domingo will sing the lead role of Pablo Neruda in Il Postino, which was commissioned in 2005. Domingo, who also directs the Los Angeles Opera, said in a release that he’d been hoping to collaborate with Catán for several years. “When he told me that he was working on an operatic adaptation of Il Postino, I immediately felt that Pablo Neruda was a role that I very much wanted to bring to life,” Domingo said.
Catán, a native of Mexico, studied philosophy and music in Great Britain as an undergraduate and earned his Ph.D. in music from Princeton, studying under Milton Babbitt *92, Benjamin Boretz *70, and James K. Randall *58. “They were very inclusive in their outlook and they worked at helping their students find their own voices,” Catan told Opera Today in a July 2010 interview. “I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write opera. I always found that having a dramatic text was very inspirational for me. That really got my creative ideas flowing.”
Catán’s operas have been performed in North, Central, and South America. He’s also composed music for film and television, and in 2000, he earned a Guggenheim Fellowship. When he’s not composing, Catán teaches music appreciation, jazz, and modal counterpoint at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif.