£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again


 
REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 

cover image

alternatively
CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) La fanciulla del West (1910)
Daniela Dessi (soprano) - Minnie; Fabio Armiliato (tenor) - Dick Johnson (Ramerrez); Lucio Gallo (baritone) - Jack Rance; Massimo La Guardia (tenor) - Nick; Andrea Patucelli (bass) - Ashby; Marzio Glossi (baritone) - Sonora; Marco Voleri (tenor) - Trin; Massimiliano Valleggi (baritone) - Sid; Federico Longhi (baritone) - Bello; Orfeo Zanetti (tenor) - Harry; Nicola Pamio (tenor) - Joe; Claudio Ottino (baritone) - Happy; Velo Torcigliani (bass) - Larkens; Franco Boscolo (bass) - Billy Jackrabbit; Fulvia Bertoli (mezzo) - Wowkle; Giovanni Guagliardo (baritone) - Jake Wallace; Giuseppe Riva (bass) - José Castro; Steve Collalto (tenor) - Un postiglione;
Orchestra and Chorus Città Lirica/Alberto Veronesi
Stage director: Ivan Stefanutti; Set/costume designer: Nall; Lighting designer: Valerio Alfieri; TV director: Michelangelo Rossi
rec. Gran Teatro all’aperto di Torre del Lago July 2005
Sound formats: PCM stereo, DD 5.1, DTS 5.1 Picture format: 4:3 Letterbox
ARTHAUS MUSIC 101 393 [138:00]

Experience Classicsonline

La fanciulla del West was premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on 10 December 1910. The conductor was Arturo Toscanini and the cast was certainly impressive: Minnie was sung by Emmy Destinn, Dick Johnson by Enrico Caruso and Jack Rance by Pasquale Amato. I don’t think I exaggerate when I state that they were the best singers at the time each in their respective vocal pitch. Possibly it could be argued that Titta Ruffo was an even stronger candidate than Amato for Jack Rance’s role. And there were great names in several other roles: Albert Reiss, the greatest Mime of his time, sang Nick, the bartender, the big-voiced Adamo Didur was Ashby, the Wells Fargo agent, Antonio Pini-Corsi was Happy and as Jake Wallace, the minstrel, was sung by Andrés De Segurola.

With such a cast it couldn’t flop and the opera was quite successful in the US but, even though it is played from time to time, it has never quite become established as a standard work. One reason is no doubt the lack of real hits. Dick Johnson’s short aria in act III, Ch’ella mi creda is quite often heard isolated from the opera but one such piece isn’t enough. It also takes too long before the central drama comes to the fore. The first half of act I feels rather empty with too many ‘Hellos’ from the various miners. All through the opera one hears phrases that seem promising: ‘Ah, here is a build-up to the big love duet.’ But it never comes - in any case not in the same shape as those in Manon Lescaut, La Bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly. The point is that Puccini aimed at something else. ‘I’m fed up with Bohème, Butterfly & Co’ he wrote. He wanted something different and, honestly, a hard-boiled Wild West story can’t be accompanied by the same kind of music as Bohème and Butterfly. And with hitherto musical elements, such as quotes from American folk music and Stephen Foster-like melodies and a colourful orchestration that seems to point forward to Turandot, he created a score that may have influenced the film music composers from the 1930s and onward. When things start to happen in act I it is easy to be caught by the proceedings and act II is a real thriller. With good singing actors in the leading roles and with evocative sets La fanciulla del West can still be a considerable success.

The present production, from the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago in 2005, has several good things to recommend it. The sets are stylized but basically realistic and, in combination with the likewise realistic costumes, we get a picture of a real-life adventure in bleak, sparse surroundings, poverty, loneliness, cold. In the second act, in Minnie’s cabin, we get glimpses of snow coming down heavily when the door occasionally is opened.

There is a lot of activity in the public scenes in act I and III and the cameras register quite often in close-ups of individual characters. There are no sensational, epoch-making angles but honest filming with relative modest means, not pushy as some productions can be. The acting is generally quite good and the three central characters are excellently played.

Fabio Armiliato may not be a new Caruso but I’m almost certain that he is a better actor than the legendary Neapolitan and he certainly has the looks and build of a Ramerrez. Besides this he sings very well. I have praised him on several occasions and must repeat that he has taste, style and ability to give a rounded portrait of Johnson/Ramerrez. He never overdoes the histrionics, rather preferring understatement yet with a heroic ring to make the big moments tell. His real-life wife, Daniela Dessi lacks that big dramatic voice that Emmy Destinn possessed but hers is also a finely nuanced heart-warming portrayal of the strong-willed Minnie. The third main character, the sheriff Jack Rance, is played with superb arrogance and a sardonic smile. He is at his most diabolic in the second act scene with Minnie and his singing of this testing role matches his acting.

The supporting cast is uneven but never less than tolerable. Andrea Patucelli as Ashby has a beautiful but rather pale bass; considering that Adamo Didur was Ashby at the premiere one would expect something more powerful and black. Massimo La Guardia, the bartender Nick, is a good character actor but his singing is more of a liability. Giovanni Guagliardo, the minstrel in the first act, is quite good, and Marzio Glossi draws an admirable portrait of the kind-hearted Sonora.

Alberto Veronesi ensures that the dramatic temperature is high and draws excellent playing from the orchestra. The recording is good.

There are a couple of other DVDs of this opera, which I haven’t seen, but I would guess that the 1982 recording from Covent Garden under Nello Santi has quite a lot to offer with Carol Neblett, Placido Domingo and Silvano Carroli in the leading roles. I have had a couple of glimpses of it and Neblett and Domingo also took part in the DG sound-only recording a couple of years earlier, also with Covent Garden forces but conducted by Zubin Mehta and with Sherrill Milnes as Jack Rance. This has been my favourite version for many years.

The present issue has a fine trio of main characters and should give a lot of pleasure.

Göran Forsling



 

 

 

 

 

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.