Completely unexpectedly, Il Postino (the postman), the opera by Daniel Catán, produced last fall in LA, was on television last night.
And how beautifully it fits into our currently developing tenor theme. The two main roles are both tenors. The poet Pablo Neruda, sung by tenor Placido Domingo (called Don Placido in Linda Ronstadt's introduction), is a character in the drama, and
Mario Ruoppolo, sung by tenor Charles Castronovo is the title character. Getting the rest of the cast out of the way:
Beatrice Russo (pronounced Italian), Mario's love, Amanda Squitieri
Neruda's wife, Cristina Gallardo-Domâs
Giorgio, communist postmaster, Vladimir Chernov
Donna Rosa, Beatrice’s aunt, Nancy Fabiola Herrera
Grant Gershon conducted.
There are a number of positive things about this opera. The composer, Daniel Catán, who has since died, actually seems to like to compose for singers. His style is neo-Romantic, possibly even neo-verismo. The plot is not only about love, it's about poetry, a marvelous subject to sing about. I don't know if it is a problem that the opera is in Spanish. Does this present casting difficulties?
The plot is handled in a manner reminiscent of Hector Berlioz: I compose the parts I like and skip the parts I don't like. This left the story presented in a choppy, disjointed way. Perhaps librettist is a skill that has not lasted into the 21st century.
It was enjoyable. I especially enjoyed the romantic portrayal of Charles Castronovo as the young man learning to love the metaphor and how to seduce a young woman with words. He was charming.