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Daniel Catán

Publisher: AMP

Il Postino (2010)
Commissioned by the Los Angeles Opera
Text Writer
Libretto by the composer, based on the novel by Antonio Skármeta, and the film by Michael Radford.
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Grand Opera
Year Composed
2 Hours 5 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
2S, Mz, 4T, Bar, B-bar, 5T, 2Bar, 2B, 1 silent role (boy)
Alternate Orchestration
1(pic).1.2([ssx]:bcl).1/2.1.0+btbn([sous]).0/timp.perc/kbd/str - orchestration by Stefan Kozinski
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Programme Note
Daniel Catán Il Postino (2010)
Los Angeles Opera

Libretto by the composer, based on the novel by Antonio Skármeta,
and the film by Michael Radford.

Cast List:

   MARIO'S FATHER: Character Tenor
   GIORGIO: Bass-baritone
   BEATRICE: Soprano
   DI COSIMO: Baritone
   PRIEST: Character Tenor
   DONNA ROSA: Mezzo-soprano
   PABLITO (son of Mario and Beatrice): Silent
   4 THUGS: 2 Tenors, 2 Baritones
   5 PATRONS: 3 Tenors, 2 Basses
   Chorus: TB

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The action takes place on a small Italian island in the 1950's. Mario Ruoppolo is a gentle young man in an insular Italian fishing village where time moves slowly. Since Mario's seasickness doesn't allow him to fish, he takes the job of postman, delivering mail on a bicycle to only a single customer, the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Neruda has been exiled to Italy because of his communist views. After a while, the two become good friends.

In the meantime, Mario meets and becomes smitten with a beautiful young lady, Beatrice Russo, in the village's only cafe. Mario has no idea how to pursue the longings of his heart. With the help of Neruda, Mario is able to better communicate his love to Beatrice through the use of poetic metaphors. Soon Mario is composing poetry of his own, with hopes of not only attracting Beatrice's attention, but of winning her heart.

Mario and Beatrice are later married, and at the same time Neruda and his wife Matilde learn that they are allowed to return to Chile. Some months after Neruda's departure and subsequent lack of contact, Mario makes a nostalgic recording of island sounds for Neruda, including the heartbeat of his unborn son. Several years later, Neruda comes back to the island and finds Beatrice and her son in the same old cafe. She tells him that Mario was killed just before the birth of their son, at a communist rally in Naples. He was selected to read his poetry (dedicated to Neruda) for the crowd, but police stormed the rally before he could reach the stage. Beatrice gives Neruda a letter that Mario left for him.

View Vocal Score

reduced orchestration by Stefan Kozinski:
View Full Score Act I
View Full Score Act II
View Full Score Act III

  • 08 NOV 2019
    Harrison Opera House, Norfolk, VA
    Virginia Opera
    Adam Turner, conductor

    Other Dates:
    10 November - Harrison Opera House, Norfolk, VA
    12,16,17 November - Dominion Energy Center, Richmond, VA
    22,24 November - GMU Center for the Arts, Fairfax, VA
  • 02 FEB 2020
    NHCC Journal Theatre, Albuquerque, NM
    Opera Southwest

    Other Dates:
    5,7,9 February - NHCC Journal Theatre, Albuquerque, NM

...dramatically engaging and musically satisfying. Catán's three-act work captures the best aspects of the film and smoothly integrates the incidents into operatic form. ...very much an unapologetically melodic piece. What works about Il Postino is the way these breezy melodies never sound retrograde - the swelling strings and twittering woodwinds match the romantic temperament of the setting and the characters. ...a highly singable and enjoyable show.
LOS ANGELES – “Il Postino” is a contemporary opera that doesn’t behave like a contemporary opera. Set in recent times, its story engages the emotions much the way the popular operas of the distant past do. Its score, by Mexican-born composer Daniel Catán, entices the ear without pandering. It may be just what the doctor ordered for an opera company trying to survive a rough economy without sacrificing its spirit of adventure. Of course, Los Angeles Opera had one big advantage as it presented the work’s world premiere on Sept. 23 -- the services of its General Director Plácido Domingo in the lead role of the revered Chilean poet/activist Pablo Neruda. But get this: when curtain call time arrived in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the loudest cheers from the season’s opening-night-gala crowd went to the composer.
Richard S. Ginell,,27/09/2010
the language spoken by Catán's lovely score is universal: the safely melodious terrain of international opera. It has lyrical vocal writing, lush orchestral interludes, hints of Verdi and Puccini. There's love. There's death. Add the plot of a popular (and Oscar-winning) film and throw Plácido Domingo into the mix for good measure, and you've got something with considerable crowd appeal, which brought the opening night audience to its feet.
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post,25/09/2010
The piece... is undeniably beautiful, and it packs an emotional punch.
Joshua Kosman, The San Francisco Chronicle,25/09/2010
Given its world premiere Thursday on the opening night of the Los Angeles Opera's 25th anniversary season, "Il Postino" delivers in a way few modern operas do.
Ronald Blum, The San Francisco Examiner,24/09/2010
Catán’s fourth opera is not intended to surprise. No doubt most of the audience will know his opera’s source and feel comfortable with the tonal, Puccini-infused lyricism of his score. The composer from Mexico who lives and teaches in Southern California and who wrote his own libretto, follows the 1994 film closely if not slavishly. Unlike the novel, which takes place in Chile in the early ‘70s at the end of Neruda’s life, the movie moves the story to a fictitious Italian island 20 years earlier, during the Chilean poet’s exile. Catán, however, restores a small taste of the politics, sex and Skármeta’s wonderful dry humor, as well as Neruda’s poetry, that the banal film left out.
Mark Swed, The Los Angeles Times,24/09/2010
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