Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Puccini's La Fanciulla del West at the Met


My husband and I are opera devotees and every season we see at least four operas at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, located at West 65th St. and Broadway, in the borough of Manhattan in New York City.  The Lincoln Center complex, which had its 50th anniversary last year, has embarked upon a major transformation initiative which is now 90% complete, to fully modernize its concert halls and public spaces on its 16-acre urban campus. (All photos will enlarge if clicked on once, and then clicked on again when they open on a new page.)


A view of the new steps leading up to the Josie Robertson Plaza in front of Lincoln Center. Unfortunately, I only had my small pocket camera with me this evening so the quality of my photos were not as sharp as usual. The lights in the steps announced all the ongoing events happening at all the venues in Lincoln Center, and they kept changing patterns very decoratively.


I've shown the new modern black granite Revson Fountain in the center of the plaza many times before on my blog, and if you look under my blog's opera label, especially this post, you can see how the water can be made to dance beautifully in many various heights and formations.

video

The evening we attended La Fanciulla del West, in early January, the fountain was operating very low, but I took a video of it non-the-less.


The Metropolitan Opera House Christmas tree was still standing in the upper balcony window on the night we were there. 

I always enjoy looking at the costumes on display in glass cases on the orchestra level, and this time there were two costumes designed by Cecil Beaton for the 1966 performances of Verdi's opera La Traviata. This year's season Metropolitan Opera's opening premier gala was La Traviata -- a brand new production directed by Willy Decker, with set design by Wolfgang Gussmann. You can watch some short videos of the new production on this link. Truthfully, I am not a fan of this new ultra modern looking production, and will forever love the lavish Franco Zeffirelli productions I've seen in the past out of sentimentality. 


This evening we attended Giacomo Puccini's La Fanciulla del West - The Golden Girl of the West. - This season's performances marked the 100th anniversary of the opera’s world premier at the Met. 

Although Puccini declared La Fanciulla del West his greatest opera at its premier, it never gained the popularity of his now better know operas of La Boheme, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, or Tuandot, all of which are also personal favorites of mine. I was happy to have seen Puccini's La Fanciulla del West, as now I have seen performances all of his masterly operatic repertoire!

La Faniciulla del West is a three act opera set in a California mining camp during the 1849-50 gold rush. The Metropolitan production we saw starred soprano Deborah Voigt.  Voigt is more renowned for her Wagner and Strauss roles, than Italian roles, but gave a riveting and moving portrayal of Minnie, the owner of the Polka Saloon. Marcello Giordani, tenor, portrayed her love interest Dick Johnson (who was also the disguised bandit Ramerrez). Baritone Lucio Gallo was the jealous sheriff, Jack Rance, who also loved the character Minnie. Nicola Luisotti was the conductor and the set designer was Giancarlo Monaco.

There is an excellent review, including photos and videos of the Met production on the Opera Today website. 

The opera cast's final bows onstage

I found the opera enjoyable, but it was rather long as there were two intermissions of thirty six minutes long to allow for a change in the elaborate set. The highlights in the production for me was in the third and final act when Giordani sang "Ch'ella mi creda e lontano (Let her think I am free and far away)" and the final moments with the lovers walking off to the sunset, singing "Addio, mia California!"
 
I had to smile as it reminded me of the ending of many TV westerns when Dale Evans and Roy Rogers would walk off into the sunset singing "Happy Trails." Puccini was certainly ahead of his time!

PS: We are expecting a foot of snow tonight and it is falling heavily as I type this. I've heard the plow come down my street two times already so I think NYC may function better in this storm than the last. For all those sharing the same storm stay safe and warm! Think Spring!

Linking this post to:
"Outdoor Wednesday" on Susan's blog A Southern Daydreamer
"Rednesday" on Sue's blog It's a Very Cherry World




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50 comments:

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I loved going to the met with you, Pat! How wonderful that you take advantage of all the cultural things at your doorstep. I adore opera, so this is right up my alley. And I agree, I much prefer elaborate costumes to starker modern attire.

Those costumes by Cecil Beaton are just wonderful. How neat that you got to see them. I have a book of his photoraphy that I enjoy browsing. He was such a multi-talented man!

XO,

Sheila :-)

Kris said...

I am in awe!!!!

Jo said...

snow is also falling here in vancouver ... but we are only expecting 4 - 6 inches ... and omg ... your photos always leave me longing to just chuck everything and move to NYC ... how magnificent it is ... and oh do i ever love those costumes by Cecil Beaton ... gorgeous & sumptious!

H said...

I have been to stage plays and orchestral concerts, but never watched an opera. Maybe I should consider it. I think I might enjoy the experience.

Sea Witch said...

My mom and dad would take in an opera every season. It was one of their favorite things to do. I always think of them when I watch Moonstruck and remember the fabulous date of "lone wolf" and Loretta. Stay warm. We are still freezing here in the south and snow and ice is everywhere. Sea Witch

Edie Marie's Attic said...

A snowy good mornin' to you Pat!!

We've got snow too! Columbus has done a pretty good job with the snow this year, I'm so glad.

I love opera but sadly haven't seen very many of them in my lifetime. But I've probably seen every episode of Roy Rogers & Dale Evans!! LOL
I adore the gorgeous costumes some, or shall I say, most operas have....
how do you say... Bellisimo!!

Stay warm! Hugs, Sherry

Nuts about food said...

That is so funny, I took almost the exact same picture of Lincoln Center. I had trouble to with the words lighting up on the steps...I really wanted to show the greetings in all the languages, but I only got blurred lights.

EliFla said...

I didn't visit it last time I went to New York!!! :( ...next time I will go...it's beautiful...hugs, ciao Flavia

GrandmaK said...

How grand to see the sets! I had just listened to this on Saturday! Thank you for your lovely postings! Cathy

Jojo said...

Pat, I was reading along just trying to take in all the details of your description just trying to take in the cultural opportunities that are part of your world. Then you had me chuckling at the comparison of Happy Trails!!!!

Pat said...

Oh this is gorgeous, Pat! Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful photos.

Lucy (aka RHarper) said...

I love those dresses. And this whole post. I'd like to see anything in that building. So beautiful.

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

I loved when Roy Rogers and Dale Evans would sing Happy Trails! Stay warm, Pat!!

Melanie said...

Thank you for a great visit. Love the costumes.

Good luck with the snow. I heard about NY in the news. Here it is 12c so too mild for snow now but I think Scotland is having some.

GoodyGirlRed said...

One of my very favorite places--great pictures, love the costumes!

Farmchick said...

Such a great experience and thank you for sharing it! I have never experienced an opera, until now.

Donnie said...

I have only been to the Phantom of the Opera in a large venue and loved it. Those are beautiful photos. Stay safe and warm. It's 37 degrees here in central Florida.

Vee said...

Did you get that foot of snow? I saw pictures this morning of Times Square and it looks beautifully cleaned up.

My how ignorant I am of opera. I had no idea that such an opera about the Wild West existed. All very interesting and your linking it to Roy Rogers and Dale Evans had me smiling as well.

I even enjoyed watching the "low" fountain. So many delights in NYC.

Oh, and your new header is very nice and descriptive, too.

Claudia said...

Girl of the Golden West was probably one of my first operas. I was amazed (and very young - age 11?) that it was written by an Italian! Cecil Beaton's costumes were always so lush - as was Zeffirelli's staging of anything. Loved my visit to Lincoln Center. Glad you hear plows and how nice to be home during the snowfall! Hope you're warm and snuggled in.

Theanne... said...

Not familiar with this opera so enjoyed learning about it...grand photos and fountain video! The Big Apple...one can take so many bites!

Pondside said...

What a lovely tradition you and your husband have. I have only recently discovered an enjoyment of opera - attended some in my teens and twenties and found it more work than pleasure. Isn't it great that we change as we mature!

Carol said...

The Met is just so beautiful! Gorgeous costumes!
How'd you make out with the storm? Much better than the last one here!

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Every time you write about the Met and the opera it is a treat for me Pat! We were lucky with this storm...just 8 inches and the plows were out in full force. Funny, if we hadn't had that big storm we might be considering this one a big storm.
♥, Susan

Sheila said...

I certainly enjoyed reading this post Pat. I saw my first opera, La Boheme,last fall and didn't realize then that it was the first of four and part of my Christmas gift from my lovely daughter. She gave me a subscription to the season and we have wonderful seats. I'm looking forward to three Operas this spring with great anticipation. Good luck with all the snow in New York...

Ginny said...

Gads! I have never heard of a Western Opera, it is almost a contradiction in terms. I thought most operas are Italian! So was this sung in English? The opera house is exquisite, did you wear formal attire? Is this the same opera house that was in Moonstruck, the movie? The opera scene was so good in that. Oh my, I hope you are stocked up with provisions and don't have to go outside for anything! Yes, I somehow think the streets will be much better than last time!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Pat - We saw this many years ago at the NYC opera and loved it then, but this production from the Met was even better. We had tickets for this season and I let my son have the first pair since I wasn't ready to venture out. But I took a friend to the opening night of Fanciulla and it was terrific. Voigt was great in this role but so was Giordano. I too, miss the old Zefferelli sets.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Thank you everyone for your comments! I know opera is not everyone's "cup of tea" but I love to keep a record of the ones I see on my blog as it is easy to forget the details about each.

I had to smile at Donnie's comment about Phantom of the Opera as it's composer Andrew Loyd Webber was said to have been influenced by the music from La Fanciulla del West and we certainly heard some similarities.

Ginny --No the opera was sung in Italian, but was written by Puccini as his gift to America so he wanted an American theme.

We received a foot of snow last night but thankfully this time it was light and fluffy and easily shoveled.

Riet said...

What a beautiful building and I love that opera. We both love opera too. Beautiful dresses you show there. A foot of snow, my goodness. We did have so much just around Christmas . Never had so much snow before. All that is new so trains, traffic, plains, it was a mess.

Sara said...

Beautiful photos - it made me feel like I was there...

How fun that you get to go to the opera as often as you do...

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Ooo...I didn't know about the fancy new steps! Once again, I have learned something new about NYC from you. :-)

I used to do a mini season ticket package with a friend of mine. Not only did I get to see some great productions (and one real stinker, if I'm honest!)...it was a great way to commit to seeing each other four times a year! I really miss it (and haven't seen my friend in over a year!!).

Sally Annie Magundy said...

Thanks so much for taking us along with you. You lucky, how wonderful to get to go the opera every season! I've only been twice - La Boheme and Don Giovanni.

Happy Rednesday,
Sally

Blooming Rose Musings said...

I remember growing up we would take school field trips to the Met and later to Lincoln Center. I loved it but didn't really appreciate opera until I was older. I love that you and your husband have a tradition of attending Lincoln Center. Thank you so much for taking us along on your latest "date".
Hope you were able to stay inside and warm today.

Old Kitty said...

I am going to profess my utter ignorance and say this is the first I've ever heard of this opera of Puccini's!! The Golden Girl of the West!! Opera set in a Californian mining town!! Now that is incredible!!! It's got pistol packing poker cheatin guys and gals!! Amazing!! And the clips are just - well operatic!!! A western opera!!

Lincoln Centre looks amazing! And gosh -that's a truly modern looking La Traviata!! All stark and stripped down to minimalist scenery!!! Oh dear!!

Thanks for sharing these fab pics and amazing info - glad you had a great night out!! Please take extra care and stay warm and safe! Take care
x

mrs. c said...

i love to get al "dressed up" and go to the theater! But the Met is just to die for! We saw Andrea Bocelli at Madison Square Gardens and it was fabulous. Oh, we went to eat in Little Italy but I don't remember where.

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

Puccini's opera's are always wonderful!! Looks like you had a wonderful night out.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Pat, As a Music Major many moons ago, I studied Puccini and all of his works including La Fanciulla del West... BUT--other than hearing a few of the numbers, I have not heard it all of the way through.. You are right. This one has always been skipped over... Glad you saw it...

Wish I lived close enough to go to the Met... You are so fortunate.
Hugs,
Betsy

Jeanne said...

Hi Pat, I would be thrilled to attend an opera at the met. You truly live in one of the most awesome cities in the US. Your post is so interesting with great photos. Thank you for doing such a wonderful job sharing the city you love with us in the blogging world.

Stay warm in this very large snow storm. We finally got out to the store today. It was touch and go but we made it.
Hugs, Jeanne

Maria M. Boyer said...

Lovely, Pat, just lovely. Your post makes me think back to a time when my hubby and I would listen to the live opera from the Met every Saturday afternoon on NPR. Hmm ... I wondered when and why that stopped. Such peaceful times.

Lisa@GrandmasBriefs said...

I'm continually amazed at the beauty you have all around you, that you share here daily. Lovely. Stay safe and warm in the storm. I can't wait to see the photos of your snow-covered city.

Oliag said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again....someday I am going to get to the Met!

We got at least a foot and a half of snow...and I love it!

KarenHarveyCox said...

New York is so amazing. You are so blessed to be so close to the magnificent Met. I think that besides the wonderful music of the opera, I too enjoy the costumes.
Karen

From the Kitchen said...

What a treat to spend time with you today! We have tickets to see La Fanciulla del West with Deborah Voight at the Lyric in Chicago next month. We enjoy The Met at a local theater--just not the same as being there.

Best,
Bonnie

From the Kitchen said...

P.S. Must mention that I'm still a great fan of elaborate staging and period costuming--at the opera and at Shakespeare productions.

Best,
Bonnie

Kathleen said...

Thank you for my dose of culture! I enjoyed my trip to The Met with you. What does a ticket go for these days?

Linda said...

Thanks for taking us on another wonderful tour in NYC. I went to an opera in Los Angeles when I was very young...it was fun. I grew up listening to Italian Classics as my step Dad was an Italian from Grenich Village.

Gracie said...

Thanks for sharing another night at the opera!

Trotter said...

Puccini isn't my favourite, but the Fanciulla is interesting...
Today I'll see Janacek's Katia Kabanova at the São Carlos... I'll tell you later!! ;)

Nancy Jane said...

Oh boy, did this bring back memories! When I was a sophmore at my high school in Connecticut I took the annual opera trip to the "old" Met in the city to see this opera. (Yes, I'm old enough to just remember the pre-Lincoln center days!) That was the day I fell in love with opera. The grand old opera house, the costumes, sets and live horses on stage! So glad you did this post and brought back happy memories. Nancy
PS-The last 2 years you've had more snow in the city than we've had in PA! Sorry you had to dig out again...ouch!

The Muse said...

it has been ages Ms Pat since we have been to the Met...ah gosh it is not easy to forget your beauty...to not recall her opulence and romance :)

extraordinary imagery~as always :)

Buttercup said...

I really like the new look of Lincoln Center, though it seemed to take forever. Unfortunately, I'm not an opera devotee, but enjoy Lincoln Center Theater and the ballet. I also like all the summer activities and just enjoy walking through the campus. I'm only about a mile north so I'm in the neighborhood a lot. So enjoy your visits around New York. Your photos are terrific.