Notes and Editorial Reviews
Puccini’s late opera La fanciulla del West bristles with drama and intrigue in this newly remastered classic recording with Zubin Mehta conducting the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House and starring Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes and Carol Neblett. With its potent mixture of stark realism and gushing romanticism, this Wild West melodrama builds on the hard-edged style Puccini had used in Tosca, infusing it with Debussian harmonies and Straussian orchestral colours to produce his most distinctive and original opera. Featuring the stock in trade characters of a gun-toting heroine, a macho hero with a sensitive side, and a villainous Sheriff, Puccini eschews the signature lyricism of his earlier operas for a more seamless melodic style to produce a dramatic work of almost symphonic proportions. While critics of the time were somewhat bewildered by this subversive potboiler, modern audiences have warmed to this richly revealing opera which, unusually for Puccini, has a happy ending. This classic recording dating from 1977 is Gramophone magazine’s top choice for the opera and can now be enjoyed for the first time in full SA-CD hybrid multichannel sound. “Carol Neblett is a strong Minnie, vocally distinctive and well characterised, while Plácido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes make a good pair of suitors …. Zubin Mehta conducts with real sympathy for the idiom” (Gramophone). And the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs (2003/4) enthused “Domingo sings heroically … but the crowning glory of a masterly set is the singing of Carol Neblett … Full atmospheric recording to match.” Although recorded in multi-channel sound, these memorable performances have previously been available only in the conventional two-channel stereo format. Using state of the art technology which avoids the need for re-mixing, PENTATONE’s engineers have remastered the original studio tapes to bring the performances to life as originally intended: in compelling and pristine multi-channel sound.''