2004-05-07 La Fanciulla del West (G. Puccini), Opernhaus Zurich

Dick Johnson (Ramirez) = José Cura
Minnie = Sylvie Valayre
Jack Rance = Juan Pons
Nick = Volker Vogel
Ashby = Giuseppe Scorsin
Sonora = Cheyne Davidson
Trin = Martin Zysset
Harry = Miroslav Christoff
Joe = Peter Keller
Bello = Gabriel Bermúdez
Sid = Günter Groissböck
Happy = Reinhard Mayr
Larkens = Pavel Baransky
Billy Jackrabbit = Boris Petronje
Wowkle = Kismara Pessatti
Jake Wallace = Peter Kálmán
José Castro = Valeriy Murga
Un Postilione = Boguslaw Bidzinski

Patrick Fournillier, conductor

Inszeniering - David Poutney
Spielleitung - Aglaja Nicolet
Bühnenbild - Stefanos Lazaridis
Kostüme - Sue Wilmington
Lichtgestaltung - Jürgen Hoffmann
I went to the opera house at 1730, and when I was there I collected my ticket for I Vespri Siciliani. I did not love this production, José Cura was good, Sylvie Valayre was good and Juan Pons was good in the main roles. But the production was bit gimmicky for me, using movies as backdrop sometimes. Many times it just prevented me from observing the action on stage, during one of the duets Minnie/Ramirez was it particularly disturbing.

La Fanciulla del West, Opernhaus Zurich 2004-05-07
with Sylvie Valayre (Minnie), José Cura (Dick Johnson/Ramirez) & Juan Pons (Sheriff Jack Rance)

I think Puccini would have like this opera made into a film, a spaghetti-western. The production made the movie-screen into the opera. It was nice as a opening of the opera, the notice "Intermission" on screen at the end of act 1 and 2, and as "running text" at the end of the opera. It was also implemented as a part of the drama in the opera, that was not  so successful.  Then it was often more disturbing, for instance I nearly missed what was going on between Minnie and Johnson/Ramirez in one of their duets. The movie backdrop made my eyes look at the movie which was not giving me anything in the drama from the real action that was between the opera singers / the characters. So clearly the movie idea as part of the scenography had not been thoroughly thought through. It is also, I think, an evidence of not believing in the audience willingness or ability to use their imagination to "get the action". The audience is not stupid, nor are we so easily duped as the production team might have thought.  A more clever use of the movie media would have enhanced the opera in a much better way.

Another critical point of this performance was the orchestra and it conductor. I have read of the dense orchestration of  Puccini opera, this was the first time I realized how dense it was. The music from the orchestra played as the elegance of town orchestra of a little Spanish town. It was band music. Making it very hard for the singers to come through the density of the orchestra. On Sunday luckily the Swiss orchestra played as I used to hear them, with all the elegance a professional opera orchestra can do, Puccini sounded like Puccini should be.

Otherwise, all the singers, chorus sang and acted well

I was at my hotel room 2330. I met Yvonne and other JCx members also at the operahouse during and after the opera. Waited at the stage door for José, and I did get some great photos of him.
This page was last updated: June 20, 2022