It was love at first sight.
Mario encounters the lovely Beatrice and knows instantly with his whole being that he must win her heart. Mario enlists the help of his newest friend, the famous poet Pablo Neruda who mentors him in the art of poetry and metaphor. Mario's life is transformed through this brief but powerful friendship.
It was also love at first sight for composer Daniel Catán.
“I realized, from the very first time I saw the film, that it was a suitable theme for an opera. It deals with art and love: the foundations upon which we build our lives. Love is what makes us human. Art is our most sophisticated tool for achieving that humanity. And opera is one of the most complete art forms ever imagined, for it includes music and poetry.” Thus reflects composer Daniel Catán when speaking of the inspiration behind his fourth and newest opera Il Postino which premieres September 23rd at Los Angeles Opera.
Catán’s opera is based upon Michael Radford’s internationally adored film (1994) and the original 1985 novel Ardiente Paciencia (“Burning Patience,” later known as El cartero de Neruda) by Chilean novelist Antonio Skármeta. (Unbeknownst to many Postino fans, before publishing his novel, Skármeta made his own film of the tale in Chile in 1983.)
Il Postino tells the tale of a shy young postman in a tiny Italian fishing village, who finds the inspiration to live out his dreams during his daily deliveries to his only customer, the poet Neruda who is in political exile. Radford’s film moved the events from Chile to southern Italy and Catán’s opera follows Radford’s lead, though the libretto is in Spanish, as are all of Catán’s operas to date.
Both Skármeta’s novel and Radford’s film have long-inspired the millions who experience them. Catán’s opera, with its rich orchestration, lyrical melodies and sensitive narrative pacing, is sure to do the same. “I am very excited to participate in the world premiere of an opera by one of today’s most important composers,” said tenor Plácido Domingo, LA Opera’s Eli and Edythe Broad General Director, who will sing the leading role Pablo Neruda. The stellar premiere cast also features Charles Castronovo as Mario Ruppolo, the title character, Amanda Squitieri as Beatrice, and Cristina Gallardo-Domâs as Neruda’s wife, Matilde.
Los Angeles Opera, who commissioned Il Postino, will open their 2010/11 25th Anniversary Season with the world premiere set of six performances running through October 16th. Classical KUSC 91.5fm will broadcast and stream the premiere live from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. LA Opera’s production is conducted by Grant Gershon and staged by Ron Daniels, a renowned director of opera, theater and film. The artistic team also includes Riccardo Hernandez (scenery and costume designer), Jennifer Tipton (lighting designer), Philip Bussmann (projection designer) and David Bridel (choreographer). Co-producers Theater an der Wien (Vienna) present the European premiere in December 2010 and Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris) offers an additional run in June 2011.