Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a marvelous production/performance (from 1991) of Puccini's impressionistic, fascinatingly scored, under-appreciated saga of America's Wild West during the gold rush...The 2.0 sound is spotless, as is the picture...
Orchestra & Chorus of La Scala Conductor Lorin Maazel
Puccini's Wild West opera has the California gold rush as its dramatic backdrop for a story in which Minnie, the only woman in a mining camp, gambles on her one chance of happiness. Lorin Maazel conducts a fine cast in Jonathan Miller's 1991 production of the compelling and evocative opera, which Puccini himself considered his best work.
Minnie Mara Zampieri, Jack Rance Juan Pons, Dick Johnson (Ramerrez) Placido Domingo, Nick Sergio Bertocchi, Ashby Luigi Roni, Sonora Antonio Salvadori
Part four in this collectable mid-price set, the DVD includes a 28 page booklet with full libretto by G. Civinini and C. Zangarini, after the play The Girl of the Golden West by David Belasco.
UNLOCKED FROM THE ARCHIVES OF RAI TELEVISION, THIS IS A CLASSIC RECORDING FROM ONE OF THE WORLD'S GREAT OPERA HOUSES
ALL REGIONS - Running time 144 mins
Picture format 4:3
Sound format Dolby Stereo
R E V I E W S:
"...this is a marvelous production/performance (from 1991) of Puccini's impressionistic, fascinatingly scored, under-appreciated saga of America's Wild West during the gold rush. The super-realistic sets by Stefanos Lazaridis imply a relatively wealthy mining community--the barroom in Act 1 is solid and well-appointed, and Minnie's simple cabin looks as if it could withstand an avalanche--and overall create the type of atmosphere that fans of American movie westerns will find comfortable and accurate. Similarly, Jonathan Miller's natural direction has no jarring edges...Dick Johnson arguably is Puccini's most difficult tenor role, and Placido Domingo sings it with remarkable security, actually improving as the performance progresses. Aside from a rather nasty high B-natural in Act 1, he seems comfortable with the part's high tessitura, singing with force and great expressivity. And he looks dashing as a western hero/bandit. Baritone Juan Pons turns in what is perhaps his most dramatically exciting portrayal. In addition to being genuinely menacing, he's quite moving in his introspective moment early in the opera, and he gets more color than usual out of his rather grainy, dark baritone...The problem arrives with the Minnie of Mara Zampieri...she sings all of the notes (quite a feat in itself) and acts convincingly. But the quality of her voice is a matter of taste...Lorin Maazel, perhaps reacting to the score's shimmering orchestration and harmonies, brings out the best in the work, even in the difficult exposition period at the opera's start. The 2.0 sound is spotless, as is the picture; there are English subtitles. The accompanying booklet contains a synopsis and Italian-only libretto. If you can stand Zampieri, this is a fine presentation of this wonderful opera. -- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
"Recorded live by RAI for Italian television in January 1991, this DVD of La fanciulla del West presents the atmospheric production that Jonathan Miller directed for La Scala with sets by Stefanos Lazaridis and costumes by Sue Blane. With a strong cast and with Lorin Maazel proving a warmer, more idiomatic Puccinian here than he generally was in his audio recordings for Sony, it makes a welcome issue... Maazel’s direction makes one marvel afresh at the imagination and colour in this score, distinct from other Puccini operas in its obsession with the whole-tone scale. The end of Act 1, for example, with Minnie’s sigh over an unresolved chord, must have taken early listeners completely by surprise.
Plácido Domingo is in superb voice, and rightly wins ovations for each of his big solos. Juan Pons, too, is wonderfully firm and dark of tone as Jack Rance, and though Mara Zampieri as Minnie sings with clear focus and no suspicion of a wobble, the result is often near to hooting. A strong performance, nonetheless, even if she is made to look like a schoolmistress rather than the proprietor of a saloon patronised by goldminers. At least it makes it easier to believe that she has never been kissed. Among the others, Marco Chingari as the minstrel Jake Wallace in the great melody near the beginning, Luigi Roni as the Wells Fargo agent Ashby, and Sergio Bertocchi as Nick, all rise splendidly to their brief moments of glory." - Edward Greenfield, GRAMOPHONE
Works on This Recording
La Fanciulla del West by Giacomo Puccini
Sergio Bertocchi (Tenor),
Antonio Salvadori (Baritone),
Mara Zampieri (Soprano),
Placido Domingo (Tenor),
Luigi Roni (Bass),
Juan Pons (Baritone)
Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,
Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Written: 1910; Italy
Date of Recording: January, 1991
Venue: Teatro alla Scala, Milan
Be the first to review this title