By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
Six weeks ago the opera world lost one of its finest
composers when Daniel Catn died unexpectedly at age 62. The South Pasadena
resident, who was a long-time instructor at College of the Canyons in Santa
Clarita, was best known for his most recent work, Il Postino (The Postman), which received its highly successful
debut last September at Los Angeles Opera.
In my review of the premiere (LINK), I called the work “a
stunning new opera … one of those all-too-rare nights when every individual
element melded marvelously… a performance that reminded us that opera — at its
best — can touch emotions and tell stories like no other medium.” Many other
critics were equally laudatory in their reviews. (LINK) Il Postino went on
to performances in Vienna and will be presented at the Theatre du Chtelet in
Paris beginning June 20.
Catn was much more than just one opera, however, and his
life and music will be honored in three quite different ways this weekend.
Sunday at 4 p.m. at Occidental College’s Thorne Hall,
Sonia Maria de Len de Vega will lead her Santa Cecilia Orchestra in the final
concert of the orchestra’s 18th season, “Mxico Sinfnico.” The concert was originally scheduled as
a celebration of music from south of the border, and specifically, of Catn,
but it will now do double duty. The 80-piece orchestra — which includes harpist
Andrea Puente Catn, the
composer’s wife — will play four of Catn’s pieces along with
Silvestre Revueltas’ La Noche de Los
Mayas, with an additional dozen or so percussionists on hand for that
swashbuckling piece. Info: www.scorchestra.org
Saturday morning at 10 a.m., KUSC (91.5-FM; www.kusc.org)
will begin its fifth season of “LA Opera on Air” with a broadcast of Il Postino recorded live at the Dorothy
Chandler Pavilion. The production stars Plcido Domingo in the role of Chilean
poet Pablo Neruda and tenor Charles Castronovo in the role of Mario Ruppolo
(the Postman in the title). Grant Gershon, LAO’s associate conductor and music
director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale) conducts.
The online broadcast will have a live chat discussion
between Christopher Koelsch, LA Opera’s senior vice president/chief operating
officer, with Andrea Puente Ctan, widow of the composer.
Monday evening at 6, LAO will commemorate Catn’s life and
legacy with a free program at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. No details have
been announced although a LAO spokesperson says there will be music.
BTW: other broadcasts in the LA Opera radio series will be
Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (May
28), Wagner’s Lohengrin (June 4),
Rossini’s The Turk in Italy (June 18)
and Britten’s The Turn of the Screw
(June 25). All five broadcasts will be aired nationwide and internationally
through the WFMT Radio Network (times will vary).
(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.