The Sunday Opera: Giacomo Puccini's "La Fanciulla del West" from the NCPA
We’re off to the “Old West” via Italy and China on this week’s Sunday Opera (10/8 3:00 P.M.) with Giacomo Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West” in a production from Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts.
The libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini was based on a play of the same name (“The Girl of the Golden West”) by David Belasco that romanticized the gold rush of the middle of the19th century in the mythical Cloudy Mountains in California.
Minnie (Amarilli Nizza), the “girl” of the title, is a fixture in the Polka Saloon where she teaches the miners reading by using the Bible, and although it’s a rough and tumble time, Minnie keeps the men in line.
All of the men love Minnie, but one, the dubious sheriff Jack Rance (Claudio Sgura) turns from love to obsession. However, Minnie doesn’t love him, as she is taken by a newcomer to the area named Dick Johnson (Marco Berti) who is actually a bandit named Ramerrez, and the triangle, which could become fatal for Ramerrez at any moment, plays out against the lives of the other miners to a fortunately happy ending.
The rest of the cast contains visiting artists and members of the NCPA company. Andrea Battistoni conducts.
After the opera, we’ll turn to more music inspired by the Western U.S. by composers like Virgil Thomson, Meredith Willson, Antonin Dvorak, and Aaron Copland.