Past Operas 2020

By | May 15, 2021

March 18th 2020

Girl from the Golden WestLa Fanciulla del West – Puccini

Puccini’s Wild West opera has the California gold rush as its dramatic backdrop for a story in which Minnie, the only woman in a mining camp, gambles on her one chance of happiness. Lorin Maazel conducts a fine cast in Jonathan Miller’s 1991 production of the compelling and evocative opera, which Puccini himself considered his best work.

This DVD of La fanciulla del West presents Jonathan Miller’s atmospheric production for La Scala, with sets by Stefanos Lazaridis and costumes by Sue Blane. The cast is strong, and Lorin Maazel proves a warmer, more idiomatic Puccinian here than he generally was in his audio recordings for CBS/Sony. His direction makes one marvel afresh at the imagination and colour in this score, distinct from other Puccini operas in its obsession with the whole-tone scale.

Jonathan Miller, Placido Domingo

Synopsis: click here.

February 19th 2020

CosiCosi fan tutte – Mozart 

La Scala; Riccardo Muti

Daniela Dessì and Delores Ziegler lead the cast in Mozart’s brilliant and witty opera, as the two women whose faithfulness in the face of romantic love is ruthlessly tested in Da Ponte’s comic tale.

This is one wonderful production of what many feel is Mozart’s most nearly perfect opera. Riccardo Muti is in the pit and his Scala orchestra play like angels for him. The sets are beautiful (and much more so than the somewhat Pop Art-ish Glyndebourne sets). The backdrops overlook the Bay of Naples and the sky and water are blue, blue, blue. The foregrounds are fairly simple – a few columns, some tables, benches, stairs, drapes. When Ferrando and Guglielmo go off to join their military unit they are picked up by a rather nice three-masted ship that sails in from the wings and then carries them off. Costumes are also traditional, typical 17-century trappings with wigs, period-specific military uniforms for the men, lovely gowns for the women. I was amused that the hat worn by Despina when she appears as the magnetic Doctor in Act I looks like a pilgrim hat, but I guess that’s not really anachronistic, just a little funny-looking to an American viewer.

Synopsis: Click Here

Wednesday January

Lo frate ‘nnamorato –

Pergolesi – La Scala

Rare recording of Pergolesi’s second opera, a comic and colourful tale of tangled love in which three girls resist their arranged marriages in pursuit of the same young man. Rediscovered by conductor Riccardo Muti, this forgotten jewel sparkles in its 1989 period production.