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AZO Cast Members & Creatives

Daniel Catán

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Catán was of Sephardic Jewish descent. He was born in Mexico City, and studied philosophy at the University of Sussex and music at the University of Southampton. He received a Ph.D. from Princeton University, where he studied with Milton Babbitt, James K. Randall, and Benjamin Boretz.

Catán was the first Mexican composer to have an opera produced in the United States, when San Diego Opera produced his opera Rappaccini's Daughter in March 1994. He has also composed orchestral andchamber works and film music. His style can be described as neo-impressionist. His music is richly lyrical, often painting evocative colours with the orchestral palette with soaring melodies atop.

In addition to composition, Catán had a fruitful career as a writer on music and the arts, reflective of his knowledge of world literature. He lived in South Pasadena, California. In 1998, Catán received the Plácido Domingo Award for his contribution to opera, and he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000. His last opera, Il Postino, whose premiere featured Plácido Domingo in the role of Pablo Neruda, is based on the 1983 novel Ardiente paciencia by Antonio Skármeta and the 1994 film Il Postino by Michael Radford; it premiered at the Los Angeles Opera in September 2010.

Catán died aged 62 on April 8, 2011, in Austin, Texas, a few days after he attended rehearsals for Il Postino at the Moores Opera Center at the University of Houston. At the time of his death, Catán was a member of the faculty at College of the Canyons and had been commissioned by the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin to write a new opera, Meet John Doe. Other planned projects included a collaboration with Michael Charles Tobias on his libretto The Misadventures of Pinocchio.

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