The Horn

Contact Me

Receive Email Updates

Puccini's "Girl Of The Golden West" Is The Original Spaghetti Western , And The Met's Production Is On PBS This Week

  The latest PBS telecast from the Metropolitan opera is Puccini's "La Fanciulla Del West", or The Girl Of The Golden West , and  check your TV listings for it . In the New York area it will be Thursday April 21 , but check your local  TV listings for the time .  You can also find about about seeing it online at the Met's website , .

   The Met  revived  this  beautiful if somewhat strange opera last December in honor of the world premiere at the old Met in December of 1910 .  Puccini based it on a play by the once famous American playwright  and  theatrical  impresario  David Belasco of the same name .

   It's strange because many people find  the experience of hearing and seeing  19th century California miners singing in Italian  and  words such as "Doo-Dah Doodah Day " , as well as the  opera's somewhat contrived and unlikely ending .  But Puccini's score is  passionate and  ful of sumptuous orchestral colors , and full of  local flavor ,including  familiar  melodies from Western songs of the period .

   The opera takes place in a California mining camp in the mid 19th century  during the gold rush .  It's full of rough-and-ready miners ,many of whom are terribly homesick .  The lovely tomboy Minnie  runs the camp's  bar , and  is  loved by all the miners .  She also  offers Bible classes for them .  The camp sheriff  Jack Rance ,  vlllain of the opera ,although not really an evil man ,loves her  but his love is not requited .

   The  whole camp is on the lookout for a Mexican bandit named Ramirez who passes  himself  off as an Anglo named  "*** Johnson" .  He's the hero , comes into the bar one day  and  naturally , Minnie and   he fall in love , and go off to her cabin .  But Rance and the miners now know who "Johnson" is and come after him .  "Johnson" explains to Minnie that he's not really a bad guy but was forced to become a bandit by  cruel fate . 

   The men have caught him , but Minnie strikes a wager with Rance ; if she can beat him at a game of poker , he will let them  go free and  go off elsewhere as lovers .  Minnie cheats , and Rance reluctantly  leaves .  In the last act , the miners and Rance have caught  the bandit and are about to string him up .  But  believe it or not , Minnie  comes riding in on horseback and begs  Rance and  the miners to  spare him ,  reminding them of how kind she has been to them .  And believe it or not ,  they allow to two two ride off happily into the sunset !

   Even though the story may sound rather improbable ,  the opera is  colorful ,sweeping and  ultra-romantic , and you should have a great time .  The cast includes  the acclaimed American soprano Deborah Voigt  as Minnie ,  Italian tenor  Marcello Giordani  as  the hero , and  Italian baritone Lucio Gallo as Rance .  There s a DVD  available  from  the world-famous Milanese opera house La Scala,  and for a first-rate  CD  version  get  the Deutsche Grammophon recording  with  Carol Neblett ,Placido Domingo  and Sherill Milnes conducted by Zubin Mehta . 
Posted: Apr 21 2011, 05:39 PM by the horn | with no comments
Add to Bloglines Add to Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web