A few months after Daniel Catán debuted opera “Il Postino” in Los Angeles (starring Placido Domingo), the composer selected the University of Houston as its next stop.
In April, UH’s Moores Opera Center delivered the second production of Catán’s acclaimed adaptation of the award-winning film and book of the same title. Audiences responded enthusiastically, and the applause has yet to stop.
Recently, the Moores Opera Center’s performance of “Il Postino” was among the top honorees in the National Opera Association’s (NOA) 2011 Opera Production Competition. The Moores Opera Center received first prize in category four of the competition. Categories are divided according to the sizes and budgets of the productions, and competitions entries are submitted through video recordings of productions. The award will be presented during NOA’s annual gala on Jan. 7 in Memphis, Tenn.
“This award is very gratifying,” said Buck Ross, director of the Moores Opera House. “This award recognizes that the work we’re doing at UH is on par with the top opera programs in the country.”
Each year, NOA’s production competition recognizes excellence in operas from small opera companies and training programs such as conservatories and academic institutions. NOA also sponsors annual competitions focusing on opera vocals, scenes, compositions, scholarly papers and dissertations.
UH’s production of “Il Postino” was among the final projects in which Catán was involved. The composer had attended rehearsals days prior to its Texas premiere, but never made it to opening night. On the very evening that “Il Postino” opened at UH, Catan passed away at his home in Austin, Texas.
“The National Opera Association's first-place award to this production is a significant achievement for our opera program,” said David White, director of the School of Music. “It recognizes the excellence of our presentation of this beautiful and dramatically moving opera, just as it spotlights the remarkable circumstances surrounding our production.”
“Il Postino” was part of the center's Daniel Catán Project, which brings the composer's work to UH every two years. In 2009, the Moores Opera Center kicked off this tribute with a production of Catán's “Florencia en el Amazonas.” The performance impressed the composer so much that he suggested “Il Postino” as the next entry in the series.
“I believe the future of opera in this country is tied to centers like the Moores Opera Center. They alone have the resources to train students and the flexibility and freedom to teach them a repertory that will soon be the staple of our opera houses,” Catán said while he was visiting UH.
Founded in 1955, the National Opera Association promotes opera and musical theater and supports projects that improve the scope and quality of opera. To learn more about NOA, visit www.noa.org.
The Moores Opera Center was founded in 1986 by director Buck Ross and produces four productions each season. Among the center’s Houston premieres are Robert Aldridge's “Elmer Gantry,” Ricky Ian Gordon’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” Sergei Prokofiev's “The Love for Three Oranges,” Carl Maria von Weber's “Der Freischütz,” Samuel Barber's “Vanessa,” Jules Massenet's “Chérubin,” Gioachino Rossini's “Il viaggio a Reims,” and Kurt Weill's “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.” Professional recordings include the center's productions of Dominick Argento’s “Casanova's Homecoming” and a DVD release of Robert Nelson’s “A Room With a View.” For more details on the Moores Opera Center, visit http://www.music.uh.edu/opera/.