Puccini 150 – La Fanciulla del West (1910)

Poster de La Fanciulla del West

Breve historia sobre la obra

Quizá esta sea la ópera de Puccini que tiene menos representación-y tal vez aceptación- por parte del público, a 98 años de su estreno; sin embargo, es una producción exótica y diferente a todas las que había compuesto. La Fanciulla del West constituye así una obra bastante curiosa dentro de la producción de Puccini, tanto por el tema como por la novedosa composición musical.

Se conoce que cuando el compositor viajó a Nueva York, algunos años antes, aprovechó para disfrutar en ver los teatros de David Belasco, ahí conoció la creación de este dramaturgo: The Girl of the Golden West. Luego de tener la traducción de la historia, decidió utilizarla como tema para su nueva ópera.

Esta ópera se estrenó el 10 de diciembre de 1910 en el Metropolitan Opera House de Nueva York con gran éxito. Entre los que destacaron esa noche están Enrico Caruso en el rol de Dick Johnson-Ramírez (Ramerrez), Emmy Destinn (Emilie Kittlova), recordada por ser la primera Salomé, en el rol protagónico de Minnie, y Pasquale Amato como el Sheriff Jack Rance. Arturo Toscanini fue quien dirigió la orquesta. Aquí el reparto (y equipo de producción) completo de la obra obtenido del Repertory Report del Metropolitan Opera House:

 

Cartel de Reparto [Metropolitan Opera House Database]

Cartel de Reparto (Metropolitan Opera House Database)

In the presence of the composer

La Fanciulla del West – Metropolitan Opera House: 12/10/1910 (World Premiere) (Debuts: Lamberto Belleri, David Belasco, Edward Seidle,Frederick G. Gaus Reviews)

Metropolitan Opera House

December 10, 1910

World Premiere

In the presence of the composer

 

LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST {1}

Puccini-Civinini/Zangarini

Minnie………………Emmy Destinn
Dick Johnson…………Enrico Caruso
Jack Rance…………..Pasquale Amato
Joe…………………Glenn Hall
Handsome…………….Vincenzo Reschiglian
Harry……………….Pietro Audisio
Happy……………….Antonio Pini-Corsi
Sid…………………Giulio Rossi
Sonora………………Dinh Gilly
Trin………………..Angelo Badà
Jim Larkens………….Bernard Bégué
Nick………………..Albert Reiss
Jake Wallace…………Andrés De Segurola
Ashby……………….Adamo Didur
Post Rider…………..Lamberto Belleri [Debut]
Castro………………Edoardo Missiano
Billy Jackrabbit……..Georges Bourgeois
Wowkle………………Marie Mattfeld

 

Conductor……………Arturo Toscanini

 

Director…………….David Belasco [Debut]
Director…………….Edward Siedle [Debut]
Set Designer…………James Fox
Costume Designer……..Louise Musaeus
Lighting Designer…….Frederick G. Gaus [Debut]

 

La Fanciulla del West received eleven performances this season (*La Fanciulla del West tuvo 11 representaciones esta temporada).

[David Belasco, author of the play, The Girl of the Golden West, on which the opera was based, worked on every detail of this production, overseeing the design and stage direction.]

La historia cuenta que semanas antes del estreno de esta ópera, las entradas se agotaron completamente y el Met tuvo que luchar contra las reventas, e incluso presentaron dos ensayos generales con público antes del estreno, que sorprendió gratamente a Puccini por la acogida.

El argumento (gracias a “Hágase la música!”)

En el campamento de buscadores de oro, la tabernera Minnie desempeña un papel particular. Es el ángel bueno de todos, pero además es una auténtica fanciulla del West, una verdadera «chica del Oeste», que cabalga magistralmente, sabe utilizar el revólver y conoce todos los trucos de las cartas. El ambiente del Oeste «salvaje», el mundo cruel, sin leyes y sin contemplaciones de los buscadores de oro de California aparece descrito con brillantez. Para muchos de estos hombres, Minnie significa algo más. Aman sus modales bruscos y la desean. Un hombre llamado Dick Johnson entra en su local. Se conocen de antes y se gustan. En realidad, él es el tristemente célebre bandido Ramírez, que planea dar un golpe allí mismo, donde los buscadores de oro suelen guardar sus hallazgos. En el campamento se difunde la noticia de que el bandido se encuentra en las proximidades, y el sheriff se pone tras sus huellas. Minnie reconoce a Ramírez, pero ofrece un refugio al herido, incluso lo oculta con apasionado amor cuando el sheriff está a punto de capturarlo. Sin embargo, desde la habitación de Minnie, situada sobre la taberna, gotea la sangre del bandido. Minnie se arroja ante la puerta por la que el sheriff quiere llegar a donde está el bandido buscado. Le propone una partida: la apuesta es la vida de Ramírez. Minnie hace trampas y gana. La vida del bandido le pertenece. Pero, poco después, los buscadores de oro lo capturan y quieren colgarlo. Minnie debe intervenir una vez más. Recuerda a cada hombre lo que hizo por ellos; les recuerda la parábola bíblica del pecador arrepentido. Los rudos hombres se dejan convencer por estas emotivas palabras. Dejan libre al bandido, que parte con Minnie para comenzar en otro lugar una vida nueva y mejor.

Les dejo el video del aria Ch’ella mi creda cantada por Plácido Domingo en 1983 en el Covent Garden de Londres.

…y otra cantada por el tenor Mario del Mónaco, para muchos, uno de los “Ramerrez” (Ramírez) más grandes.

Para los lectores (bilingües) que deseen, haciendo clic en continuar leyendo, podrán ver unas crónicas del New York Herald y del New York Times, que tratan sobre la noche de estreno de la ópera y algunas otras impresiones. (Gracias a la Base de datos del Metropolitan Opera House).

From the unsigned review in the New York Herald

“The Girl of the Golden West” Produced in Italian Form in the Metropolitan Opera House Before a Fashionable Throng

GREAT WELCOME FOR COMPOSER AND AUTHOR

For the first time in the history of opera an Italian grand opera with an American theme for the subject of its libretto had its initial production last night, and in the Metropolitan Opera House. The opera was Mr. Giacomo Puccini’s “The Girl of the Golden West” (“La Fanciulla del West”), its libretto, in three acts, based on Mr. David Belasco’s well known play of the same name.

The event had been looked forward to as socially one of the most brilliant in the history of the house, and the result justified expectation. An audience as large and as brilliant as that which is wont to assemble for the [first] night of the season followed the performance with ever growing interest.

The opera was presented at double prices, ranging from $10 for orchestra seats down to $3 for admittance. Unusual precautions had been taken to outwit speculators, but a few choice seats fell into their hands, and some of them reaped a harvest before the hour of the performance. One sale of four seats for $200 was recorded, and as high as $150 for a single ticket was obtained. The hour of the start of the performance, however, found speculators offering tickets at box office prices, and even then several were left with the prized pasteboards on their hands.

The evening was a climax so far in what the directors of the Metropolitan Opera House have done for grand opera in this city. To procure a new opera for the repertoire is in itself an achievement. To have that novelty performed here for the first time on any stage means even more; and when the opera is the work of the composer of “La Bohème,” “Tosca.” and “Madama Butterfly” and is the first Italian grand opera based on an American subject, the event assumes great significance. As has been said, New York is indebted for all this to the directors of the Metropolitan Opera House, most active among whom in bringing about the consummation of this most interesting artistic project were Mr. Clarence Mackay and Mr. Otto H. Kahn.

Moreover, Mr. Giulio Gatti-Casazza, the general manager, as an Italian, must have taken peculiar pleasure in doing everything that he could to contribute to the success of his distinguished countryman’s work; the same is true of Mr. Arturo Toscanini, who although the opera is a novelty, had so thoroughly imbued himself with its form and spirit that he was not obliged to depart from his custom of conducting from memory, which in the circumstances was a novelty.

The applause that greeted the conductor when he took his seat was the first chance for expression of the suppressed excitement that pervaded the house, This suppression was due to expectation aroused by the importance of the event. Mr. Puccini’s operas have been among the most popular in the repertoire. Here was another, the first performance of it, too, and in the Metropolitan Opera House. The title also piqued curiosity. It is one of Mr. Belasco’s most popular plays done into opera, a thoroughly American play honored by the most popular living composer of Italian opera by being chosen by him as the basis of his most mature score.

Naturally there also was curiosity as to how the play would lend itself to opera and how a company of foreign artists, singing in Italian, would succeed in “getting it over.” But could there be any real doubt when the principal rôles were sung by Miss Emmy Destinn, Mr. Enrico Caruso and Mr. Pasquale Amato, and the others also were in excellent hands? Moreover, Mr. Belasco himself had assisted materially in the production, having directed the “business” of the play at many of the rehearsals.

Nor was the result long in doubt. From the first the great audience felt the double grip of potent music and drama. After the first act there was a great outburst of enthusiasm. First the three principal artists were called out several times. Then they appeared with Mr. Toscanini. He too had to be led out more than once. Then the applause rose again, and burst out anew as Mr. Puccini appeared before the curtain with artists and conductor. Finally he was obliged to walk out alone.

Meantime, however, there had been calls of “Belasco! Belasco!” and at last the playwright and composer appeared together amid cheers. Perhaps it was the first time in the history of opera that any one who had a thing to do with the libretto shared in the ovation to the composer…

The production is the most realistic feat ever attempted at the Metropolitan. Mr. Belasco spent from eight to ten hours a day rehearsing the “business” and succeeded in getting action that at times is startling it its effectiveness. In the forest scene mounted cowboys dashed across the stage and the rush of the mob was charged with excitement. In the saloon the gambling incidents were illustrated by constant action.

In scenic effects, too, the production was remarkable and the lighting was admirably done. In fact, no stone had been left unturned to please and startle the eye both by detail and mass.

Into this scenic frame, aided by a cast of great singers, Mr. Puccini’s music fitted wonderfully. It is a tremendous bit of writing. It is full of difficulties for both singers and orchestra, but last night’s performance was letter perfect.

The cast was almost flawless. Miss Destinn in the title rôle earned new laurels, both as singer and actress. She portrayed the simple charm of the girl and also showed the tremendous depths of the first love that had come into her life. She sang as she never had here before, particularly in the second act, when her vocal art was taxed to the utmost.

Mr. Caruso, as Dick Johnson, had one of the best rôles that has ever fallen to his lot. Despite his nationality he looked the part, and he acted it with naturalness. Vocally he was glorious, especially in the last act, in the solo preceding the threatened lynching. In the final duet his voice and Miss Destinn’s had appealing qualities that brought tears to many eyes.

No less impressive was Mr. Amato, in the finely portrayed character of Sheriff Rance. In make-up and deliberate actions he vividly suggested Mr. Frank Keenan, who was the Sheriff in the original play. He wore frilled shirt, turnover cuffs and a plug hat of unknown age, and every gesture was weighted with deliberateness and coolness. He sang admirably, pleading when begging for Minnie’s heart in the first act, and making the dramatic moments ring with convincing force.

As a swaggering cowboy, Mr. Gilly was picturesque. He strode about as though he had lived in the saddle all his life. Miss Matfield, as the Indian woman, Wowkle, was good. So was Mr. Reiss as Nick, a barkeeper. Mr. Didur as most commendable as an express agent. In fact, all were “in the picture,” both dramatically and musically. Seldom has such “team work” among great artists been seen and heard.

Mr. Toscanini seemed to have poured all his artistic self into the conducting. He had every effect at his fingers ends-or at the end of his baton-and the orchestra followed him implicitly. His dramatic climaxes sent chills down the listener’s spine, while his tender moments melted the mood even of prosaic opera goers.

It was a notable night in the history of opera in America. In a word, it was the kind of premiere of which older Europe would have been very proud and of which New York would have been envious.

Review of Richard Aldrich in The New York Times

Giacomo Puccini’s latest opera, “Fanciulla del West,” was performed for the first time on any stage at the Metropolitan Opera House last evening, with all the circumstances denoting great success. It was a special performance, outside the subscription series, and the prices had been doubled, but the house was filled to its utmost capacity. And the audience was repeatedly wrought to a high pitch of enthusiasm and, as it seemed, could hardly give sufficient acclaim to those who were responsible for the production and those who participated in it.

Every effort had been made not only to achieve this success but, as well, to make the performance a notable one in the history of the Opera House. The composer had come from Italy to superintend the rehearsals and to assure the realization of his intentions in the music; David Belasco, the master of stagecraft, upon whose drama, “The Girl of the Golden West,” the opera is founded, had spent days and nights in directing the stage management and securing the perfect cooperation and interplay of all the factors that count for a perfect ensemble. And the Opera House had itself provided the finest talent it has in its service to interpret the work. It was the first time that a new work by one of the most distinguished and popular composers had had its first representation in New York, and it is not likely that any finer or more authoritative presentation of this most difficult opera will be given on the other side of the water.

In setting this drama to music, Mr. Puccini undertook a task that not so many years ago would have been deemed impossible, almost a contradiction in terms of all the conceptions of what the lyric drama could or should be. But the Italian composers, of whom he stands indisputably at the head, have evolved a technique, a treatment to which this drama and others like it can be subjected. This treatment involves a more or less detached and formless paragraphic, sometimes a rapid and staccato vocal utterance, projected against an equally expeditious and hastily sketched orchestral background, to which is given the task of accentuating, emphasizing, and intensifying the significance of the dialogue with broad points or broad sketches of color, thematic fragments, quickly shifting, kaleidoscopic harmonies. There is no weaving of a broad tapestry of the thematic development in the orchestral fabric; the music has no time to wait for that – it must hurry along after the action and try to keep pace with the spoken word. This is interrupted now and again, however, by pages in a broader style-lyric movements of psychologizing, when the music is given more opportunity to rise to its true task of expressing emotion or passion or sentiment. Here the voices may likewise sing in a broad arioso, in phrases that at least have melodic outline and shapeliness.

As to the specific quality of Mr. Puccini’s music, there is much that is significant and interesting to be noted in the score. It shows, apparently, a new step in Puccini’s development. In “Madama Butterfly” it was observed that he had ventured far into a region of new and adventurous harmonies. He has now gone still further into this field of augmented intervals and chorus of the higher dissonances. He has made much use of the so-called “whole tone” scale and the harmonies that associate themselves with it. In a word, there is a marked predilection for the idiom that is coupled particularly with the name of Debussy.

The presentation of the opera was one of Mr. Toscanini’s masterpieces, so vitalized, so full of detail, so broad in its outlines, so finished. There was the highest excellence also in the interpretation of the principal and most of the minor characters. Mme. Destinn was singularly delicious as Minnie, the Girl of the golden West. She acted the part with great energy and sincerity, and her singing of the music, which is very well adapted to her, was of splendid power and expressiveness. Dick Johnson is a part in which Mr. Caruso appears upon the stage to better advantage than he does in many others. And his singing was of the best; such phrases of expression as he had to deliver were given with beautiful voice and art, and he refrained from the over accentuation that must be accepted with the better things he does in other parts. Mr. Amato showed his versatility in impersonating Jack Rance, the Sheriff, whom he made a living figure. The choruses of the miners were admirably sung; the ensemble in the first act was especially good, and these choruses are an important contribution to the musical whole.

Anuncios

2 comentarios en “Puccini 150 – La Fanciulla del West (1910)

  1. Pingback: Caruso (Selecciones operísticas V) « Camello Parlante

  2. Pingback: Los 100 años de un western operístico « Camello Parlante

Comenta, pues

Introduce tus datos o haz clic en un icono para iniciar sesión:

Logo de WordPress.com

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de WordPress.com. Cerrar sesión / Cambiar )

Imagen de Twitter

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Twitter. Cerrar sesión / Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Cerrar sesión / Cambiar )

Google+ photo

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Google+. Cerrar sesión / Cambiar )

Conectando a %s