‘La Fanciulla del West’ at New York City Opera

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
lennygoran
Posts: 12533
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

‘La Fanciulla del West’ at New York City Opera

Post by lennygoran » Thu Sep 07, 2017 6:13 pm

So glad it's being done traditionally-we'll be there next week returning from Ct where we should have good weather for private gardens on Sunday. TOMMASINI has made my day! Regards, Len

Review: A Good-Enough ‘La Fanciulla del West’ at New York City Opera

By ANTHONY TOMMASINI SEPT. 7, 2017

New York City Opera’s production of Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West,” which opened on Wednesday at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center, may not be great. But it’s good enough to get the job done.

The job, that is, of simply putting onstage this inexplicably overlooked masterpiece, adapted from David Belasco’s play “The Girl of the Golden West” and given its premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in 1910. “Fanciulla” has often been treated like lesser Puccini and chuckled over as the first “spaghetti western,” decades before Sergio Leone’s films. Looked at one way, the story is hokey. Minnie, the plucky heroine, runs a saloon in a mountain town during the gold rush where she teaches the adoring miners how to read and write.

But there’s dramatic and musical texture to this character, who rejects the advances of an imperious sheriff only to fall for a disguised bandit. She’s the real pioneer in the town, an independent businesswoman who quiets her romantic desires to be a maternal presence and model of decency for the miners. And this is one of Puccini’s most complex and moving scores, with boldly modernist harmonies and hints of Debussy and Richard Strauss deftly folded into the composer’s own voice.

City Opera’s production, the first offering of this rebooted company’s second full season, is a collaboration with Opera Carolina, as well as companies in Italy. Before the performance on Wednesday, Michael Capasso, City Opera’s general director, touted this collaborative approach as economical. Maybe so. But the very traditional staging, by the director Ivan Stefanutti, is uninspiring; simple props and set pieces are rolled into place against generic-looking projected images of snowcapped mountains and such.


The cast has just one standout: the soprano Kristin Sampson as Minnie. With her bright, throbbing voice, Ms. Sampson brings expressive phrasing and feisty impetuousness to her performance. There were rough patches in her singing: sustained tones that turned wobbly, tenderly soft phrases that lacked legato elegance.


Still, Minnie’s tenacious determination came through in the steely fervor of Ms. Sampson’s performance, especially in her dealings with Dick Johnson, the rootless stranger who turns out to be the bandit Ramerrez. When she recalls how deeply her parents loved each other, you believed entirely in her high standards for marital devotion.

The conductor James Meena drew a surging, plush performance from the City Opera Orchestra. Despite some ragged moments and flubbed solos, Mr. Meena and his players conveyed the work’s seamless structure and richness. The men of the company’s chorus excelled as the miners who left families behind to come to California with dreams of gold. Besides singing with virile power, they threw themselves into a drunken barroom brawl scene.

The tenor Jonathan Burton gave a frustrating performance as Johnson. There are brawny, youthful elements to his singing, which at its best had ping and ardor. But too often his performance was vocally blunt and a little glib. The gravelly tones of the bass-baritone Kevin Short lent the requisite solidity to Jack Rance, the sheriff. But his singing often lacked heft and subtlety.

He was at his best, though, when it mattered most, during the climactic episode of Act II in Minnie’s cabin, where she is protecting the wounded Johnson. She and Rance play a hand of poker over his fate, and hers. She wins (by secretly cheating). Few sequences in opera top this one for ingenious melding of music and drama. That came through here.

But if a production is going to create atmosphere through the tired use of stage smoke, wouldn’t it be better to hide the pipe pumping that smoke?

La Fanciulla del West
Through Sept. 12 at Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center; 212-721-6500, nycopera.com.


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/arts ... views&_r=0

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 25840
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: ‘La Fanciulla del West’ at New York City Opera

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:43 pm

Not to put Len into a state of apoplectic shock or anything, but I actually like Puccini. He is sui generis, and I agree that La Fanciulla is ridiculously neglected. I can hear nothing in his still frequently-performed operas to make me prefer them to this one.

Anyone ever notice that with the exception of Il Trittico (probably his weakest work), none of his mature operas takes place in Italy?

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
Posts: 18565
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: ‘La Fanciulla del West’ at New York City Opera

Post by John F » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:08 pm

"Tosca" takes place in Rome. As for "Trittico," I'd say that while "Suor Angelica" is musically below par for Puccini, and needs a great singing actress like Teresa Stratas to save it from shameless sentimentality, "Gianni Schicchi" scores high. Like Verdi, Puccini had an unsuspected gift for comic opera which only came out late in life.
John Francis

lennygoran
Posts: 12533
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: ‘La Fanciulla del West’ at New York City Opera

Post by lennygoran » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:49 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:43 pm
but I actually like Puccini.
As well you should! Regards, Len :lol:

lennygoran
Posts: 12533
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: ‘La Fanciulla del West’ at New York City Opera

Post by lennygoran » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:51 pm

John F wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:08 pm
As for "Trittico," I'd say that while "Suor Angelica" is musically below par for Puccini, and needs a great singing actress like Teresa Stratas to save it from shameless sentimentality, "Gianni Schicchi" scores high. Like Verdi, Puccini had an unsuspected gift for comic opera which only came out late in life.
John not bad-1 out of 2 right-you're off the mark on Suor Angelica-just for that I'll play it tonight while making dinner! Regards, Len [very swift retreat] :lol:

John F
Posts: 18565
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: ‘La Fanciulla del West’ at New York City Opera

Post by John F » Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:05 pm

You can play "Suor Angelica" all you like, as long as I can't hear it. :mrgreen:
John Francis

lennygoran
Posts: 12533
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: ‘La Fanciulla del West’ at New York City Opera

Post by lennygoran » Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:21 pm

John F wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:05 pm
You can play "Suor Angelica" all you like, as long as I can't hear it. :mrgreen:
Okay-it's a deal! Regards, Len :D

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 3 guests