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La Fille Du Far West (La Fanciulla del West) [jewel_box]
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Description du produit
G.Puccini (1858-1924) : La Fille du Far West, opéra en trois actes sur un livret de Carlo Zangarini & Guelfo Civinni d après le drame de David Belasco. Ivan Stefanutti, mise en scène Festival Puccini à Torre del Lago, 2005 Système NTSC - Code région : 0 - 138 min
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This performance though has many strengths even if no one is quite on Stella's level. For one thing the conductor Veronesi is a Puccini specialist and provides a certainty of touch and a clear love of the music I miss from all the other conductors on DVD. He really points the arresting orchestral touches and surprising harmonies as well as relishing the melodies that sneak into this opera seductively. His pacing is natural -- he understands the words as a native -- and since Puccini set the words very precisely even using a dialog like (or quasi parlando) style that dictates the pace of many scenes -- that is crucial to the opera unfolding naturally and is missed by conductors like Slatkin, Maazel and Mehta who generalize various scenes. The orchestral response is good, not spectacular but the male ensemble, they have a lot to sing, is excellent, well rehearsed and individually good when solo lines are called for. Sound is excellent.
Dessi, Armiliato (they are a real life couple) and Gallo are all to the manner born and they give stylish, committed and large scaled performances. They are capable of nuance and detail as well as big gestures when they are called for. She isn't effortless vocally at every point, sometimes pushing off the pitch at the top and occasionally her sound turns glassy or rough but she absolutely knows what she's doing. She is plausibly girlish (within reason), also tough and also touching, she understands how much small moments matter and the big outbursts are fully committed and colorfully managed. Armiliato is one of the best Italian tenors in the world today. He has resonance and ring throughout the range, handles exposed high writing with conviction and only a hint of effort. Like Dessi he is a fine actor and he's actually the better looking of the two, really quite the dashing bandit (who, as he does it, expresses heart felt remorse). They are a terrific team and their give and take is detailed and intense -- more so than on any other DVD. Gallo is an excellent Rance, though not possessed of an imposing voice he compensates with intensity and a kind of personal glamor.
The production is very handsome along traditional lines.
I love the opera but find problems with the other DVDs mostly because the Italian nuances and colors tend to be missing with one or more singers in all of them and because few of the Minnies really have the full measure of the role, sincere as some as them are (Daniels for example, who really doesn't have the right kind of voice but who is very likable, or Zampieri who does much that is deeply felt and stylish but who has a sound only her mother and I like, Neblett who is like Daniels but screams more and is harder. I'm not the biggest Domingo fan -- sacrilege I know!!!! He's at his best with Neblett but as far as I'm concerned Met and La Scala are diminishing returns with him looking and despite all the added resonance sounding quite old at La Scala. Carroli is the best Rance -- with Neblett and that's an imaginative, theatrical production -- and the Met production is good too -- but on the Neblett DVD I dislike the English supporting cast who seem to think they're doing Gilbert and Sullivan and have poor Italian and while Mehta has energy I find his fast tough approach doesn't hold up well. Though Slatkin opens cuts --as does Veronesi -- and clearly takes the opera seriously I find him dull and Maazel doesn't do much of anything but keep going until it's over.)
I wish the Stella DVD had Corelli (perhaps his most thrilling role), the great Gobbi, a better supporting cast and a conductor less inclined to rush (De Fabritiis, an old timer, knew what he was doing but performance realities in Japan probably prompted him to keep things moving at all costs).
Meanwhile I suspect, barring a miracle, this DVD will be the best we'll get of this unusual but marvelous opera.
Time has been kind to Daniela Dessi, who made no great impression on me in some Scala performances of the late 1980s/early 1990s (such as Elisabetta opposite Pavarotti in Zeffirelli's bloated DON CARLO). Although she has developed a beat in the voice, she is a true Italian spinto who fearlessly tackles Puccini's difficult Minnie. Comparison with Carol Neblett (1982, Covent Garden) and Barbara Daniels (1992, Met) -- both appealing personalities who did make their effects -- provides a lesson in how a singer who does not have to "manage" and "finesse" so much can achieve greater freedom and variety, not only because the perilous parts are not as perilous, but because in less strenuous ones, she can relax. She is not as tensely preoccupied with what is to come, or so thoroughly drained by something that has just passed. This time, we don't fear for the soprano as we anticipate her screaming to be audible in that borderline-insanity Puccini conjured up for the very end of Act Two ("É mio!"). Rather, we edge closer, actually looking forward to it, because Dessi has shown all evening she has the goods. And she does not disappoint. But she is not simply a noisemaker. She's as tough as any Minnie on video, but the character's naïveté, insecurity, and loneliness also are affectingly realized.
The men are worthy of the girl they prize. Dessi's husband Fabio Armiliato (Johnson/Ramerrez) does not have an instrument one could hear for a few bars and confidently identify as "Armiliato's voice," as one could with Domingo's, Corelli's, and (non-fan that I may be) Del Monaco's, but he is admirably supple and lyrical. He also evinces a certain offbeat charisma, within the parameters of a lean, Doc Hollidayesque incarnation of the character. Lucio Gallo, perhaps more associated with comedic roles in Mozart and bel canto composers, is the Rance. He has done nothing finer, and it is the best-sung account of the role on DVD.
A brief encapsulation of 30 years of progress in political correctness: In the famous Faggioni/Covent Garden production of the late 1970s (starring Domingo, Neblett, and Carroli; subsequently given video release in a 1982 revival), the opening scene gave us comic relief in the form of an old-school "Injun" sneaking into the Polka and trying to steal liquor, and being chased away. In 2005, we have Ashby the Wells Fargo agent portrayed as a polished Native American who is respectfully received by Rance and the Polka gang -- and gorgeously sung by Andrea Patucelli. Also worthy of singling out, among the large supporting cast, is Fulvia Bertoli's Wowkle. To make any effect at all in this unfortunate part (Puccini had no great love for the mezzo) is an achievement, and Bertoli's richly colored singing and plaintive acting may make one wish she hung around longer. The miners are not as strongly characterized as individuals as are Faggioni's Covent Garden group, but they are Italians to a man, and their idiomatic inflections provide compensation.
Do not be dissuaded if you have never heard of the Orchestra and Chorus Citta Lirica. As indicated above, a great deal about this FANCIULLA DVD qualifies it for pride of place, nothing more so than the orchestral playing. Maestro Alberto Veronesi elicits textures of chamber-like transparency. In his progress through one of Puccini's most intricate and refined scores, he manages to be both considerate of his singers and educational and enlightening to the listener.
The sets by American painter Nall (another trendy uni-moniker) are colorful and spectacularly beautiful. They are not as historically painstaking as those in the Covent Garden and Met stagings, and they may ruffle feathers for being just a hair eccentric (or symbolic) around the edges. For example, Minnie actually sits on a giant book labeled "Holy Bible" when giving the Bible lesson; this unusual chair is covered with a cloth when that little vignette concludes. Later, there is some sort of giant skeletal fossil (stylized tree?) at center stage in the final scene. Nall also created the flattering and eye-catching costumes, of which Minnie's snazzy crimson-and-cream Act One ensemble is the standout.
No one should pass through this existence without hearing Domingo's 1982 Johnson/Ramerrez. In every respect he was at his zenith, and that FANCIULLA has much else going for it: Neblett's winning and personable (if vocally stretched) Minnie; Carroli's menacing yet complicated Rance; the conducting of one of the most reliable Italian sages, Nello Santi (his vigorous, forward-charging reading provides a strong alternative to Veronesi's lighter, clearer touch on the new performance). Faggioni's production was a landmark in FANCIULLA's history, and it has held up well, even if a 2010 viewer may squirm at its firewater-crazy Indian, and at Gwynne Howell in blackface for Jake Wallace the camp minstrel. But Kultur's DVD recycles a release from the early days of opera videos, a time when huge blocks of text went untranslated, and what *was* translated was laconic to an unsatisfactory degree. Two characters may sing for 30 seconds and the lone subtitle will read "Here's your whiskey." (I exaggerate, slightly.) The picture and sound of the Kultur also are not very good, even for the period.
Thus, with Arthaus's new release, Covent Garden '82 is relegated to second place. Everything else on video (an older provincial performance boasting Stella's Minnie; two later, dully conducted Domingo performances, with the eye candy and detailed acting of the uniquely uncut Met '92 preferable to Miller's grim/gray production and Zampieri's taste-acquired-by-few Minnie for Scala '91) lags behind by a few lengths or more.
Dessi & Armalito understand verismo and know how to project it.Every "moment" is relished and yet they are most intent on giving us fully fledged characterizations.Gallo is an excellent Rance,a three dimensional portrayal,which makes us understand that Minnie could be attracted to him. The male ensemble,so important to this work,is first rate. I just got my copy yesterday and got more excited as the performance unfolded.
The first review of this issue spoke of Domingo & Freni Freni's Minnie is something even I could never imagine.
First. The sets.
Act One. The Polka saloon had a definite Art-Deco feeling, not at all what one expects to see in that area at that time. Minnie enters dressed more of less like a street-walker, wearing flaming red pantyhose opened almost all the way up to her hips.
Act Two. Minnie's "casetta" up in the mountain has the same Art-Deco bar with more tapestry hanging here and there.
Act Three. We are not in a forest but in some place with enormous bones standing from floor to ceiling. Minnie arrives to save her man wearing an outfit possibly designed by Lady Gaga.
The singer look and act alright but the voices of Dessí and Armiliato often don't do justice to the music. Further more, the singers keep looking at the conductor.
Torre del Lago deserves better.