Two years after starring in its premiere in Los Angeles, Placido Domingo brought “Il Postino,” the opera about the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, to Neruda’s homeland.
The opera by the late Daniel Catan just concluded a run at the Municipal Theater of Santiago starring Domingo, who is L.A. Opera’s general director. The performances featured other leading cast members from the L.A. production. Conducting is Grant Gershon, the resident conductor of Los Angeles Opera, who also led the orchestra for the L.A. premiere.
The opening night performance in Santiago won a “thunderous ovation” from a house that included Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and First Lady Cecilia Morel Montes, reported the La Tercera newspaper.
“We were lucky to have seen Domingo in a role that suits him, without the baritone incursions that definitely don’t suit him,” wrote the critic for La Segunda. “His Neruda was absolutely marvelous and, like his 1967 performances in “Carmen” and “Andrea Chenier,” those who were lucky enough to have seen it will remember it for the next 45 years as a great event.”
The critic for Las Ultimas Noticias said that hosting “Il Postino” “raises the Municipal Theater many rungs toward aligning it with the major theaters of the world….It’s glorious that [Domingo] has done it with a celebration of Neruda.”
And El Mercurio predicted that “the resounding success” of “Il Postino” will make Catan’s opera “a title that’s sure to pack the Municipal Theater each time it’s mounted. It will be part of the collective unconsciousness.”
The international tour of “Il Postino” has also included Vienna’s Theater an der Wien, Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, Teatro Belles Artes in Mexico City and the Cervantino Festival in Guanajuato, Mexico. In May, “Il Postino” had its East Coast premiere, in a separate production by Philadelphia’s Center City Opera Theater.
Domingo will cap his Chilean stay with a free concert Tuesday at Santiago’s Movistar Arena, joined by soprano Ana Maria Martinez. The English-language publication I Love Chile reported that crowds had begun lining up for tickets at 4 a.m. Sunday at three different distribution spots, five hours before they became available. The 9,412 seats were gone within minutes. Domingo had last sung in Chile in 2007.
In other Domingo news, Sony Classical announced this week that an album in which he sings duets with Josh Groban, Harry Connick Jr., Susan Boyle, Megan Hilty of NBC’s “Smash,” Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins, German singer-songwriter Xavier Naidoo and his son, Placido Domingo Jr., will be released Oct. 16. Domingo also will solo on some tracks, including “Besame Mucho,” which is listed as the closing number for his free show in Santiago.
Domingo has been in the pop-crossover duets game since his hit 1981 album, “Perhaps Love,” on which he sang the title track with its composer, John Denver. Denver also played guitar behind Domingo’s rendition of “Annie’s Song.” The album, among the first pop-oriented sallies by a modern opera star, sold more than 1.5 million copies in its first 18 months in the shops.