The University of Houston Moores Opera Center's production of Il Postino by acclaimed Mexican composer Daniel Catán received accolades from the National Opera Association's 2011 Opera Production Competition, earning the first prize in Division IV.
“This award is very gratifying,” Buck Ross, director and founder of the Moores Opera Center, said in a written statement. “This award recognizes that the work we're doing at UH is on par with the top opera programs in the country.”
In a CultureMap interview than ran prior to the performance, Catán expressed an affinity for Houston, owing much of his success to commissions by Houston Grand Opera and productions by the Moores Opera Center.
The classification is determined by the production budget, size of the scholastic program and level of vocal training of the singers in the cast. The competition is open to academic institutions, music conservatories, summer opera training and outreach programs.
Catán had been in close contact with Ross in preparation for the April run of Il Postino (The Postman), originally commissioned by Placido Domingo and the LA Opera based on Antonio Skármeta's 1983 novel Ardiente Paciencia or El Cartero De Neruda. He had attended rehearsals, coached students and was expected to attend the opening performance.
But Catán never showed — he died in his home in Austin, where he was teaching a semester at the University of Texas at Austin's Butler School of Music.
Catán's death came as a shock to the global music community, but it was students, faculty and friends of the Moores Opera Center at the University of Houston who felt the loss and his absence immediately.
For those in the audience, this reporter included, the experience, in retrospect, feels painfully surreal.
In a CultureMap interview that ran prior to the performance, Catán expressed an affinity for Houston, owing much of his success to commissions by Houston Grand Opera and productions by the Moores Opera Center via the Daniel Catán Project, an initiative to stage one of his works every two years that began with his Florencia en el Amazonas in 2009.
To enter the competition, hopefuls had to submit footage of a complete live performance or dress rehearsal with audience, cropping out any elements that would identify the presenting organization. There were 50 submissions and 19 awards were granted by a panel of judges.
Other winners in Division IV include Miami University of Ohio's Cendrillon in second place and CUNY‐Queens College's Postcard From Morocco in third. The University of North Texas' production of Regina received first place in Division V.