|La Fanciulla del West
||[Oct. 18th, 2018|02:15 am]
Laying aside all the oddities arising from an Italian writing an opera about the American West... (Stand by, that’s a lot to lay aside...)
Somehow I’ve never seen Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West before, and didn’t even know it at all. So it was all new to me tonight. The last revival was a good way back, with Deborah Voigt somewhere in her vocal decline, and I didn’t go then. (Or even hear it, so maybe pre-Sirius? No, 2010–11, the Archives says, and before that 1995. With Marcello Giordani, maybe that kept me away.) Eva-Maria Westbroek’s top notes are sounding like Debbie’s bad years, not a good thing. Jonas Kaufmann’s return is the story here, and he delivers. Želko Lučić needs to find some nice guys to sing; he’s making a specialty of the shlubby villain, and sounding better than he has sometimes recently, but he could do with a hero, or at least a virtuous sidekick, in the mix.
The rest (and there’s a lot of rest) sang well but with mixed success cutting through the orchestra. There’s a lot for the male chorus to do, and of course the do it well, as does the orchestra. And Marco Armiliato does well wringing the most from a wide-ranging score. The prelude could stand as the inspiration for every oater score ever, all cinematic sweep and color. There’s a lot of standard-issue Puccini for the dialogue, and some fine swells when passions rise. It’s in HD sometime soon, which may or may not show off Giancarlo del Monaco’s picturesque, hyper-detailed 1991 production well.