My answer is certainly a resounding “yes” for Daniel Catàn’s lyrical fourth opera, “Il Postino” (Postman). Judy and I as well as guild members David and Linda Lundstrom traveled to Los Angeles for a most rewarding experience: a modern opera that actually has arias that one could learn and hum. Well…Linda really had a greater interest in meeting the once mighty tenor, now more of a baritone, Domingo. Furthermore, all of us went to L.A. to attend the annual meeting of Opera Volunteers International of which our guild has been a member for many years.
She did not meet the maestro, but we certainly saw and heard him, and the next evening experienced his conducting style.
I spoke very briefly with Catàn, primarily to acknowledge his achievement and to tell him that I brought greetings from Utah Opera’s Christopher McBeth. He was most cordial and confirmed that we were fortunate to have our conscientious, knowledgeable, affable and industrious artistic director.
Briefly, the opera is based on the sentimental Italian film about the Nobel Prize winning poet, Pablo Neruda, who became an object of my literary studies in graduate school. He is known best in some circles as the Chilean Communist Poet and in others for his immense capacity for describing nature, especially the ocean, in his original way.
Neruda living on an island becomes well acquainted with the young “postino” who has been hired simply to deliver the great man’s mail, since he receives too much!! Neruda helps him write poety to the girl he loves. The ending is not good, folks, but the opera offers truly beautiful “tunes” (if I may use such a common term), love interest and intellectual challenge. None of the music tests the full capacities of the singers, but all would agree that neither are they easy to sing and interpret.
This a modern opera that is also intellectualy thought provoking, even to some extend what the good old, half-baked German communist, Bertolt Brecht, would have termed a “Denkspiel” (thought play, i.e.thought provoking).
A final word on Plácido: He has the perfect role for this time in his long career. He feels, he interprets with intuition his character. Indeed, he is Neruda!