Domingo not done with 'Il Postino,' but Texans have composer's OK to jump in
“Il Postino,” which Los Angeles Opera premiered in September with Plácido Domingo starring as the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, will open next month in Houston –- albeit not with Domingo, who is still immersed in the role, and not at the highly respected Houston Grand Opera.
The four performances, April 8-11, will unfold in a training-program production at the University of Houston’s Moores Opera Center. Daniel Catan, the composer who adapted “Il Postino” from both the hit film and “Ardiente Paciencia,” the very different 1985 novel by Antonio Skarmeta on which the film was loosely based, has a strong affiliation with the university’s Moores School of Music, dating back to 1996 when Houston Grand Opera premiered “Florencia en el Amazonas,” Catan’s piece (co-produced by L.A. Opera) inspired by works of Gabriel Garcia Márquez.
In 2009, the Moores Opera Center solidified the relationship when it established the Daniel Catan Project. It's a commitment to stage one of the Mexican-born, L.A.-based composer’s operas every two years, cast mainly with students, “until he runs out of them,” as the center’s website puts it.
“Florencia en el Amazonas,” came first; Catan suggested “Il Postino” as the follow-up, and the booking was announced more than two months before the show opened in L.A. (that production has since been mounted in Vienna, and Domingo is scheduled to sing the role again in June at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris).
No student performer will have to tremble at the thought of singing in Domingo’s shadow. In Houston, Neruda will be played by Moores School professor Joseph Evans, a veteran tenor whose credits include singing the role of a Caribbean dictator in Houston Grand Opera’s 2004 premiere of Catan’s “Salsipuedes, a Tale of Love, War and Anchovies.”
-- Mike Boehm
Photo: Composer Daniel Catan during rehearsal for L.A. Opera's premiere of `Il Postino.' Credit: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times.