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Composer Daniel Catan takes on the Frank Capra classic 'Meet John Doe'

October 7, 2010 | 10:16 am


Having already adapted one film for the operatic stage -- "Il Postino," currently playing at the Los Angeles Opera -- composer Daniel Catán is set to repeat the task with a new work based on the 1941 Frank Capra classic "Meet John Doe."

The opera, commissioned by the Butler School of Music in Texas, is scheduled to premiere at the University of Texas at Austin Butler Opera Center in fall 2012. Catán will be a composer-in-residence at the university in 2011 in order to work on the new composition.

Capra's movie, which starred Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Brennan, tells the story of a former baseball player who agrees to assume the fake role of a social crusader that was invented by a journalist. The film received an Oscar nomination for original story.

The Butler School of Music said that plans for the new opera began in 2008, shortly after Sarah and Ernest Butler announced a $55-million naming gift to the UT School of Music. Catán accepted the commission in 2009.

While in residency at the school, Catán will also work with the Butler Opera Center on its production of his 1991 opera "Rappaccini's Daughter," which opens Feb. 25.

Born in Mexico, Catán currently lives with his wife in South Pasadena. Despite the Latin influences in his work, the composer told the Times in a recent interview that his music is inspired by Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel and Alban Berg.

-- David Ng

Photo: Daniel Catán. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times