Great Performances at the Met: La Fanciulla del West on WXXI-TV

Great Performances at the Met: La Fanciulla del West on WXXI-TV

Sun, 04/24/2011 - 12:00pm

Pictured: Lucio Gallo as Jack Rance

Credit: Courtesy of Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Puccini’s wild-west opera, based on David Belasco’s play, made its world premiere in 1910 at the Met.

The Metropolitan Opera’s production of La Fanciulla del West, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the opera’s 1910 world premiere at the Met, airs Sunday, April 24 at 12 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11). Deborah Voigt sings the title role of Minnie in Giancarlo Del Monaco’s 1991 production, with Marcello Giordani as Dick Johnson (the disguised bandit Ramerrez) and Lucio Gallo as the villainous sheriff Jack Rance. San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts the work.

Set in a mining camp during the California Gold Rush, saloon owner Minnie has her sights set on the mysterious Dick Johnson, and nothing—not horses, hangmen, nor a high-stakes poker game—can keep her from finding true love.
The debut of La Fanciulla del West on December 10, 1910 was the first-ever world premiere presented by the Met.  It earned nineteen curtain calls for Puccini, stage director David Belasco, stars Emmy Destinn and Enrico Caruso, and conductor Arturo Toscanini. A review in the New York Herald suggests that the evening was a triumph for all involved: “The event had been looked forward to as socially one of the most brilliant in the history of the house, and the result justified expectation…In a word, it was the kind of premiere of which older Europe would have been very proud and of which New York would have been envious.”

As for the current production, the Associated Press praised Voigt for “a riveting and moving portrayal” displaying a “shining top that pierced through the sumptuous orchestration…her warm, endearing manner combined with an infectious stage-dominating moxie to make [the role] all her own.” As Dick Johnson, Giordani “is at his best here” said the New York Daily News. Under the baton of Luisotti “the score emerged as arguably Puccini’s most subtly written and boldly modern music” (The New York Times).

Great Performances at the Met: La Fanciulla del West was directed for the live HD transmission by Barbara Willis Sweete and hosted by Met soprano Sondra Radvanovsky. Jay David Saks is the music producer. The performance is sung in Italian with English subtitles.