Review Roundup: LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST at The Met

Review Roundup: LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST at The MetLA FANCIULLA DEL WEST is now open at The Met! Soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek sings Puccini's gun-slinging heroine in this romantic epic of the Wild West, with the heralded return of tenor Jonas Kaufmann in the role of the outlaw she loves. Tenor Yusif Eyvazov also sings some performances. Baritone eljko Lu?i? is the vigilante sheriff Jack Rance, and Marco Armiliato conducts.

Puccini's "American" opera, based on David Belasco's play The Girl of the Golden West, had its glamorous and highly publicized world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera, with the composer in the audience. The drama is set during the California Gold Rush, and the girl of the title is one of Puccini's most appealing heroines-a strong, independent woman determined to win the man she loves. Although it fell out of favor with audiences for a few decades following its original success, Fanciulla has rebounded in popularity in recent years and is now counted among Puccini's best works.

The opera unfolds in the mountains of California during the Gold Rush in 1849-50. The anachronistic presence of a Pony Express rider and a Wells Fargo agent would indicate a date after 1860, but historical accuracy is not the goal in this tale. Puccini was enchanted with Belasco's fictional setting, with its combination of mythic and grittily realistic elements.

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Let's see what the critics have to say!

David Salazar, Opera Wire: From his first entrance to his last exit alongside Westbroek, Kaufmann WAS Dick Johnson. He moved about with confident swagger of a cinematic cowboy, rubbing off insults with a vibrant smile. This made him more dangerous than acting like a stereotypical tough guy; it made him unpredictable and more complex. He carried himself with confidence and poise; he just looked dominant onstage.

Anthony Tommasini, NY Times: For a while, Mr. Kaufmann was hands down the most exciting tenor in opera. Now he has some younger competition, including at the Met, where the thrilling tenor Vittorio Grigolo, who stepped in when Mr. Kaufmann withdrew from a new production of Puccini's "Tosca," has become a house favorite.

Barry Bassis, The Epoch Times: Marco Armiliato led the Met orchestra with panache, and the set and costume designer Michael Scott as well as the supporting cast and male chorus are praiseworthy. There is also a real horse.

Richard Sasanow, BroadwayWorld: The opera has a number of good feature roles and the Met cast did well by them. In particular, baritone Michael Todd Simpson was a fine Sonora, in probably the opera's best defined role, showing growth from blunt to poignant by the opera's finale. Bass Oren Gradus turned in a smoothly sung Jake, while tenor Carlo Bosi did well as the loyal Nick. Conductor Armiliato tried to move things along, and the Met orchestra turned in a nuanced performance, but changing the old-fashioned set pushed the opera toward its breaking point by the end of the evening.

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