Breaking: Domingo composer found dead

Breaking: Domingo composer found dead


norman lebrecht

April 11, 2011

Daniel Catan, a Mexican composer whose greatest success was the opera, Il Postino, that he wrote for Placido Domingo, has died at the age of 62.

Il Postino was premiered by Los Angeles Opera last September and is due to be staged in Houston this month.
Catan, who had been in good health, was found at his home in Austin, Texas, where he was teaching a semester at UT Austin Butler School of Music. He attended rehearsals of Il Postino last week in Houston and was delighted by them.
More as I hear it.


  • MusikAnT says:

    Words fail me here. Daniel Catan was a composer whose music I passionately admired. He was one of my very favorite composers. I’ve loved his music ever since I heard ‘Florencia en las Amazonas’ when I was still in short pants back in the 1990s. That rapturous, opulent music won me over instantly.
    I attended the premiere of ‘Il Postino’ last year at the LA Opera: a lovely, sun-lit work gently pulsating with warmth. As the children of Chilean parents, I didn’t care very much for the work’s subtle leftist, pro Allende bias. But the music itself was beautiful.
    I cannot describe how fortunate I feel to have been able to personally meet Daniel Catan, on the LA Gold Line of all places, last year. I met him on the morning of New Year’s Eve. I was arriving at Memorial Park Station in Pasadena when I saw him purchasing a ticket from one of the ticket vending machines. I immediately recognized him. “Don Daniel,” I greeted him in Spanish. “Forgive for intruding. But I just wanted to shake your hand and express my deepest admiration for your music which I’ve long loved since I was 14.” He was very gracious; very humble. “My goodness,” he said. “I never thought I’d ever be recognized in public. No one ever approaches me I like that. I never thought I was some famous public figure. I’m deeply touched that you even know at all who I am.”
    We spent the next 20 minutes talking about music–his music and music in general. He went on about how he loved Richard Strauss and Giacomo Puccini, how there was the possibility of a DVD of ‘Il Postino’ in the works, of the forthcoming performances of his works in 2011 with LA’s Santa Cecilia Orchestra, his deep admiration of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra (his wife is the orcherstra’s harpist), his appreciation of Silvestre Revueltas’ music (the SCO will be pairing Catan’s music with Revueltas in a concert next month), and so on. I was in heaven.
    Catan was deeply erudite. But more than that, he was a kind gentleman; gracious and hospitable in that inimitably Hispanic manner. Before he stepped off the train at the South Pasadena Station, he kindly autographed my sketchbook and took a picture with me. He stepped off the train, but not before he told me, “Thank you for all your kind words. It makes me very happy to know my music touches people–especially young people’s. I hope to see you next May at the Santa Cecilia. Happy New Year to you and your family. Have a good trip!”
    I will always treasure those 20 minutes I had of Catan’s time.
    Que Dios te bendiga, Don Daniel.

  • Dean Stewart says:

    Daniel was one of my music teachers at College of the Canyons. He was perhaps the most gracious man I have ever known, always giving of his time and energy.
    You will be deeply missed dear friend. Thank you for sharing your journey with me and so many others. You leave behind such beauty from your incredible soul.

  • Margit says:

    I would like to join the last two comments. I heard about Daniel Catán’s death last night. I was speechless!
    I had the privilege and joy of meeting him in Los Angeles, when he was working on the world premiere of “Il Postino”. I immediately fell in love with this opera.
    He was the most gracious, friendly, helpful, humble man. It was pure joy talking to him and discussing music with him.
    I last met him again in Vienna at the premiere of “Il Postino” and the following day I happened to run into him and his lovely wife near Karlsplatz in Vienna.
    I was so much looking forward to seeing him again in Paris in June.
    He will not only be infinitely missed by his family but also by the many people who appreciate and love his music.
    He will be in my heart forever!

  • Steven Appleton says:

    I was very fortunate to know Daniel. At a crucial time in my life he was a friend who listened to me and shared intensely with me. As a fellow artist who was little bit older than me, he lent me perspective and understanding that stays with me. Especially, he was unabashed about the valuation he put on human passion and desires. Though we lost touch, I always expected to reconnect. His death is a shock.

    My most wonderful experiences with Daniel were a couple afternoons spent at his apartment on Los Feliz. We alternated between brief swims in the courtyard pool, sipping campari with orange juice and critiquing passages of his newest work, played on a polished black baby grand framed by a walls painted deep red. His enthusiasm to hear my thoughts about his composition was endearing as my training in music in music is limited. Clearly, his music was for everyone. Though erudite and sophisticated at every level he exuded a belief in the intuitive powers of music and people.

    His death is a terrible loss for all of us.