The premiere of this opera by Giacomo Puccini took place in 1910 at the Met. Enrico Caruso and Emmy Destinn sung the main parts and Arturo Toscanini conducted. Despite being estimated by its author as one of his greatest works, “La Fianculla del West” remained in the shadows of Puccini’s other masterpieces, presented on the world stages throughout the XX century. Yet, the music specialists consider it a magnum opus, emphasizing its compositional mastery, which made Toscanini call it a “great symphonic poem”.
The drama is set during the California Gold Rush, and the girl of the title, Minnie, is one of Puccini’s most appealing heroines – a strong, independent woman determined to win the man she loves.
The Met revives the production of Giancarlo Del Monaco from 1991. The famous opera director began his career in Italy with productions in which his father, the legendary tenor Mario Del Monaco, was singing. His stage version of Puccini’s “American” opera is intentionally traditional and uses sets which transfer the audience in the rough living conditions of the time.
Jonas Kaufmann returns to the stage of the Met after a few years absence in the role of Dick Johnson.
Kaufmann’s burnished tone and romantic magnetism come across impressively (Richard Fairman, Gramophone)
On the photo: A scene from Act III of Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West.”
Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera