DANIEL CATÁN (1949 - 2011)
Daniel Catán was born in Mexico City in 1949. He studied Philosophy at the University of Sussex, and Music at the University of Southampton in England. Subsequently he attended the University of Princeton, where he obtained his Ph.D. in Music Composition and Theory. His teachers were Milton Babbitt, James K. Randall and Benjamin Boretz.
The composition of Rappaccinis Daughter took Daniel Catán to Japan, where he studied the music of the traditional Japanese arts, focusing especially on those that combine music and drama. Apart from his activities as a composer and teacher, Catán has had a fruitful career as a writer. He has published numerous articles on music and the arts in the most prominent literary journals of Mexico. His recently published book, Partitura inacabada, gathers various essays of music and related topics. Catáns compositions include a Cantata for soprano, chorus and chamber orchestra, on a text from Saint John of the Cross, El árbol de la vida and En un doblez del tiempo, for symphony orchestra, Ausencia de flores, a ballet commissioned to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of José Clemente Orozco, Tierra final, for soprano and orchestra, with text by Jorge Ruiz Dueñas, Mariposa de obsidiana, for soprano, chorus and orchestra, and the two-act opera Rappaccinis Daughter, both the last works with texts by Octavio Paz. Rappaccinis Daughter was first performed at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, in Mexico City, on 25th April, 1991.
The success of the United States première of Rappaccinis Daughter by the San Diego Opera in 1994 brought Catán international attention and a new commission by the Houston Grand Opera. Florencia en el Amazonas became the first opera in Spanish to have been commissioned by an opera company in the United States. The successful première in 1996 by the Houston Grand Opera was followed by performances at Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera and Mexico City Opera. In 1998 Catán received the prestigious Plácido Domingo Award for his contribution to opera and in 2000 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship Award. Apart from his operas, Daniel Catán has also written symphonic music and has scored for film and television. He lives in Los Angeles, California.