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Music Pages

World Premiere - Daniel Catán's Il Postino at LA Opera

1 October 2010, Los Angeles, USA

Plácido Domingo (Pablo Neruda) and Charles Castronovo (Mario Ruoppolo)
Plácido Domingo (Pablo Neruda) and Charles Castronovo (Mario Ruoppolo)(Photo: Robert Millard)

Opera Now correspondent, Josef Woodard, reports on the world premiere of  Daniel Catán's Il Postino at LA Opera:

Although composer Daniel Catán studied with Milton Babbitt and has been known to tilt towards a brutal kind of Modernism in his writing, he keeps his cool in his new opera, Il Postino, which is currently receiving its world premiere run at Los Angeles Opera.

Apart from brief rough encounters, to illustrate a Neruda poem, say, or violent political rallies in Chile and Italy, echoes of Debussy and John Adams’ suspended luminosity drift through Catán’s delicately lovely score. The music is lucidly delivered by the orchestra under Los Angeles Master Chorale director Grant Gershon’s command.

The cast made a genial ensemble, with a dynamic Charles Castronovo in the title role. As the poet Pablo Neruda (a national hero in Chile), Plácido Domingo comported himself with proper graciousness and eloquence, even if the sung poetry occasionally strained the natural beauty of the texts.

In the end, Il Postino is a pleasant enough summer's repast. It wafts over the senses without demanding much of you, bringing with it a well-turned, harmless and musically pretty diversion. You hardly know what didn’t hit you, but are inclined to leave with a calm grin of satisfaction.

The November/December 2010 issue of Opera Now will feature Josef Woodard's full review of the world premiere of Il Postino.


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