Daniel Catán's "Il Postino" opened to sellout audiences and rave reviews when it recently premiered at Los Angeles Opera. Soon, Houston audiences will experience the second American production of this work when it arrives at the University of Houston's Moores Opera Center April 8 - 11.
"It's an extraordinary honor that Daniel Catán has selected the Moores Opera Center as the second American company to produce his latest work," said Buck Ross, director of the Moores Opera Center. "So far, it's been performed in Los Angeles and Vienna. Now, it's coming to UH before it even reaches Paris."
Based on the 1986 novel by Antonio Skármeta and the 1994 award-winning film, "Il Postino" focuses on the friendship between Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and postman Mario. A political exile, Neruda and his wife relocate from Chile to a small island in Italy. He soon meets Mario, the local mail carrier. The two strike up a relationship and Neruda teaches Mario the magic of poetry, which helps him win the heart of his true love.
"Il Postino" will be performed in UH's Moores Opera House (Entrance 16 off Cullen Boulevard). The opera is performed in Spanish with both English and surtitles. Tickets are $15 and $10 for students and seniors. For more details, call the Moores Box Office at 713-743-3313. Performance times and dates are as follows:
- 7:30 p.m., April 8, 9, 11
- 2 p.m., April 10
"The music in this opera is absolutely beautiful," Ross said. "It tells a very moving and funny story. It's very much like a very traditional opera but also feels very fresh."
The production of "Il Postino" is part of the center's Daniel Catán Project, which brings the composer's work to UH every two years. In 2009, the Moores Opera Center kicked off this tribute with a production of Catán's "Florencia en el Amazonas." The performance impressed the composer so much that he suggested "Il Postino" as the next entry in the series.
"I believe the future of opera in this country is tied to centers like the Moores Opera Center. They alone have the resources to train students and the flexibility and freedom to teach them a repertory that will soon be the staple of our opera houses," Catán said.
Among the performers in "Il Postino" is Moores School of Music professor Joseph Evans. Evans plays the role of Neruda (originated by legend Placido Domingo at L.A. Opera) . In 2004, he performed in Houston Grand Opera's world premiere of Catán's "Salsipuedes."
A versatile composer, Catán has written chamber and orchestral works, as well as music for film and television. He became the first composer from Mexico to have an opera produced in the U.S. when the San Diego Opera presented "Rappaccini's Daughter" in 1994. Works such as "Florencia en el Amazonas" and "Salispuedes" (both commissioned and premiered by HGO) made Catán a major force in contemporary opera.
L.A. Opera premiered "Il Postino" in September. Critics applauded the work and audiences flocked to see it.
"In L.A., there was not a ticket to be found for this opera," Ross said. "It was very clear that word of mouth had been excellent. I think that Houston opera fans will really regret it if they don't see this opera. Even if they are unfamiliar with it, ‘Il Postino' is an opera that they should not miss."
The Moores Opera Center is part of UH's Moores School of Music. It was founded in 1986 by director Buck Ross and provides Houstonians with four productions each season. The center has presented a number of Houston premieres including Robert Aldridge's "Elmer Gantry," Ricky Ian Gordon's" "The Grapes of Wrath," Sergei Prokofiev's "The Love for Three Oranges," Carl Maria von Weber's "Der Freischütz," Samuel Barber's "Vanessa," Jules Massenet's "Chérubin," Gioachino Rossini's "Il viaggio a Reims," and Kurt Weill's "The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny." Professional recordings include the center's productions of Dominick Argento's "Casanova's Homecoming" and a DVD release of Robert Nelson's "A Room With a View."
To learn more about the Moores Opera Center, visit www.music.uh.edu/opera.