2004-05-09  La Fanciulla del West (Giacomo 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
Matinee at the opera, same Fanciulla del West, the same singers. Cura, they said was sick, but he would still try to sing. I did not hear that  in his voice, but then orchestra did not try to kill the singers this time. I met a lot of friends from JCx and we ate dinner together it took ages to get served, my stomach did not quite agree with the food, something that I really got to know when I came back to my hotel room. Suddenly it was 2130.

La Fanciulla del West, matinee, Opernhaus Zurich 2004-05-09
José Cura, Sylvia Valayre & Juan Pons

I guess we were all a bit nervous when the opera did not start at 1400 and certainly we were very nervous when the lady came out. "Oh God!" Even cowboys can get cold, she said, but as he did not want to disappoint the audience or make trouble for the operahouse he will still sing, please be merciful. "He" probably meant Cura*. Well, Cura sang well and the orchestra played like angels (I think the announcement did make the orchestra understand that the hard & dense playing of Friday was not the thing to do).

*(Yvonne just told me it was MARTIN ZYSSET who sang the role of TRIN that had a COLD. But still the what I write is what I thought and felt about this performance)

Cura sang very well, and one might have thought that he had just pretended to be sick in order to get the orchestra to play a more humane Puccini music. BUT, many prominent singers have said that they have done their best performance when sick, WHY, when you are sick your technique must be perfect and you must concentrate even more than when in top form, THAT's the TRUTH. And there where evidence of Cura not being in top form, not during the acts, of course, but when taking applause he was not so smiling all the time, or little thing's like hand towards his head. And although he did meet his fans after the opera at the stage door, one could see his face lapse to the more tired face but then he would see one of his usual fans and his face would lit up with a smile and tiredness wiped away from his face as if it was never there.

Fabulous physique, will power and a great vocal technique was what made it possible for José Cura to give a wonderful performance as Dick Johnson / Ramirez. Just tiny details showed that he was not entirely well. But then no two performance are the same, are they? Tired, he seemed helpless and exhausted at the end of the opera when the rope was still hanging 'round this neck and he was waiting for somebody to untie him. If I had not seem Fanciulla on Friday I would have thought it brilliant acting only but I think he was really at the end of his rope there and then.

Sadly, I do not love this opera. And it is enough to hear Cura sing two arias from this opera in the Puccini arias album. Was it because of the playing of the orchestra that had ruined my first live Fanciulla and so in a way kept ruining my feeling even if they played much better this time. Was it the movie setting that disturbed me so much that I nearly "missed" the opera? Sylvie Valayre has a really beautiful voice, and she acted great. But  my vision of Minnie is based on the video with Placido Domingo and <sic> Neblett as Minnie. A blond Minnie, but this young, black-haired Minnie. Juan Pons was great as Jack Rance. But still, I do not love this opera. That's SAD.

This page was last updated: June 20, 2022