Daniel Catán's unfinished 'Meet John Doe' to be completed

Daniel Catán's unfinished 'Meet John Doe' to be completed
© Elizabeth Beristain
Daniel Catán was composing music and creating the libretto for his opera Meet John Doe (based on the 1941 Frank Capra film) at the time of his premature death in 2011. It had been commissioned by the University of Texas at Austin and was slated for premiere in 2012. Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) opera program have assembled a creative team to complete his unfinished opera and present a reading of excerpts on January 31 2015 by Opera Fusion: New Works.

"He was in a very intense creative period when he was struck by death," his widow, Andrea Puente Catán told Cincinnati.com. "He left manuscripts, sketches, sources of inspiration — both poetic and musical — and a very clear road map. It almost seemed that he knew that we would have to follow his directions on how to finish it."

She will be the project's associate editor, adviser, and manager. Conductor/Composer Eduardo Diazmuñoz, a life-long musical colleague of Daniel Catán, will be chief editor and will lead the workshop, as well as oversee structure. The husband-and-wife team of Michaela Eremiásová and Jairo Duarte-López have edited the score and composed additional music based upon Catán's own themes. The director and filmmaker Robin Guarino, chair of the opera department at CCM, will serve as stage director and dramaturg.

Opera Fusion: New Works is led by co-artistic directors Marcus Küchle, director of artistic operations of Cincinnati Opera, and Guarino. The opera's piano/vocal score was jointly funded by Cincinnati Opera and Gotham Chamber Opera in New York.

The 1941 film, starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, is about a political campaign inadvertently created by Ann Mitchell, a newspaper columnist who wrote a letter to the editor signed "John Doe," and the ex-baseball player John Willoughby hired to stand in as the author. Meet John Doe is Catán's first and only opera in English.

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