Il postino. Catán.Madrid

Teatro Real 23 July 2013.
El Royal Theatre closes its opera season with this opera of the Mexican Daniel Catán, which boasted the presence at the front of the cast of Plácido Domingo, undoubtedly the great incentive to the title. Unfortunately, the great artist from Madrid (I dare not call it tenor) had to cancel during the trials after suffering a pulmonary embolism as a result of a thrombus. It seems that health and age do not respect Superman.
The Mexican Daniel Catán has been one of the few composers of success in recent years, though he has not enjoyed it much, since he died a couple of years ago. Four are the operas he composed in his life. His first work was a little late, as the daughter of Rappaccini dates back to 1991, when Catán was 42 years of age. This followed Florencia in the Amazon (Houston, 1996), Salsipuedes (Houston, 2004) and, finally, Il Postino (Los Angeles, 2010), his last opera.
Il Postino is based on the film of the same title by Michael Radford and is a tribute to the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The script is the work of the same composer and narrates the life of the poet in Italy in the 1950s and its relationship with the inhabitants of the village, especially with the young postman in the village in a series of scenes. We are not facing a masterpiece in the history of opera, but a work that is watched and listened with pleasure and ease, much more friendly than other modern operas that we have had to suffer in recent years.
The Opera has a first part – two first acts – of lyrical, even romantic cut, while the final act, with the return of Neruda and the death of the Communist postman, acquires much more dramatic dyes. The style of Catanen in this opera is a both post romantic, with a profusion of dialogues in music and some inspired duets, with some resemblance to the music of Debussy.
Il Postino was written thinking about Placido Domingo in the part of Pablo Neruda and his vocal characteristics, so since the premiere of the opera stage identification Domingo-Neruda made the fact of breaking the tandem to bring significant consequences.
The Royal Theatre has offered us the stage production by Ron Daniels, which was premiered in Los Angeles and later travelled by different countries, such as Austria, France, Mexico and Chile. Production lends itself well to the demands of the opera, which is a series of short scenes, achieved with small scenarios with elements of props suitable for each of the environments.
Sets and costumes are due to Riccardo Hernández and are suitable both to the plot and the historical time.
Good Jennifer Tipton lighting and we must highlight the important role that have videos of Philip Bussmann.
The actors direction was well developed in all cases and the stage show is nice.
In the writor oppinion the best in show was the musical direction of Pablo Heras-Casado, directed with great knowledge of the score and got that interest did not decline, which it is not easy in a modern opera. Heras-Casado has become a true reality in the direction of operas and I hope that we can find him more often in the trenches of the Spanish theatres. Above his orders was a remarkable Symphonic Orchestra of Madrid, no doubt today the best Orchestra in the pit of Spain after the one of the Palau de Les Arts in Valencia. Good performance of the choir Inrtermezzo in its brief interventions.
Vicente Ombuena had to take on the character of Pablo Neruda to Placido Domingo. The situation was complicated and the Valencian has emerged more than graceful of the trance. Given the circumstances could not be another solution, since it was the only one who had been singing this role, apart from Plácido Domingo. Of not having him, and taking into account the dates, there would have been no choice but to suspend the representations or offer them in concert version. Thus, Vicente Ombuena wasn’t a very serious problem to the Royal theatre and did so with more than decorum. His stage performance was very convincing at all times, although vocally his instrument has little to do with the One of Domingo. It is a very central score and Ombuena is not very bright there. It should not be forgotten that the Valencian has been years doing Spanish opera theatres in comprimary roles. The last main character that I remember seeing him was the Faust in Irun.
The character that gives title to this opera is of Mario Ruoppolo, the postman in the village, whose importance in the opera is even greater than the one of the own Pablo Neruda. The interpreter was the tenor Leonardo Capalbo, whose performance has been very convincing on stage, but the voice does not have much quality and is too short in the most dramatic passages of the final act. Since the premiere in Los Angeles had been Charles Castrovono who gave life to Il Postino and his voice has a higher quality than the Capalbo’s, although this scenic composition is so convincing as that of his colleague.
The Spanish soprano Sylvia Schwartz, was a compelling stage performer Beatrice Russo, but vocally I found her insufficient for the character, although the public did not seem to share my view. In the first half of the opera, her very reduced volume and light soprano voice well meets the dreamer and amorous character of the young Beatrice, but in the last act her voice is totally insufficient, always inaudible in the concertantes.
The Chilean soprano Cristina Gallardo-Domas has always been the interpreter of Matilda, the wife of the poet, and continues to do so frankly, apart from her voice offers signs of fatigue as the score tends upwards.Very suitable the Canary mezzo Nancy Fabiola Herrera fun character of Donna rose, which seemed removed from the Stories of Frivolity program with the unforgettable sisters Gutiérrez Caba.
The secondary characters did not fulfill its mission. They were Víctor Torres (Giorgio), Federico Gallar (politician Di Cosimo), Eduardo Santamaría (father of Mario) and José Carlos Marino (priest).
The Royal theatre was almost full, with obvious spaces after the break. The public’s reaction was quite warm, with some brave aimed at the three main protagonists of the opera.
Representation began with punctuality and lasted for 2 hours and 36 minutes, including an intermission. The final applause did not pass 4 minutes.
The price of the more expensive ticket was 203 euros. In the upper floors prices ranged between 179 and 90 euros. On the top floor there were locations for 64 and 34 euros. I supose that who bought tickets to see the still Superman in scene was disappointed and rightly so.
José M. Irurzun
Traducción de: María Garcia-Rosado