La Fanciulla del West


Puccini La Fanciulla del West opera to a libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini. Directed 2012 by Christof Loy at the Swedish Royal Opera House. Stars Nina Stemme, John Lundgren, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Niklas Björling Rygert, Michael Schmidberger, Ola Eliasson, Karl Rombo, Gunnar Lundberg, Linus Börjesson, Conny Thimander, Magnus Kyhle, Kristian Flor, Ian Power, Alar Pintsaar, Agneta Lundgren, John Erik Eleby, Anton Eriksson, and Jon Nilsson. Pier Giogio Morandi conducts The Royal Swedish Opera Orchestra (Concertmaster Tomas Gustafsson) and Royal Opera Male Chorus (Chorus Master Bo Wannefors). Set and costume design by Herbert Murauer; video direction by Hannes Rossacher. Released in 2013, disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Grade: NA

According to Richard Fairman in the November 2013 Gramophone (pages 87-88), this production is set in the silent film era and "uses drab, utilitarian sets---one reason why this feels so short on romance."  Well, the package artwork certainly looks drab. Fairman praises Nina Stemme as Mini and John Lundgren as Jack Rance, but is otherwise not enthusiastic about this production.

But on the other hand, Patrick Dillon writing in the January 2014 Opera News at page 61 makes this his video "Critic's Choice" for the month! He's wild about Christof Loy's weird combination of horse-opera local color, colorless silent film, and current Regie strokes. He praises all the cast and especially Nina Stemme's success at "creating a feisty, full-blooded, fully believable girl-woman."

At this time (December 2013) we already have two "A"-graded HDVDs of La Fanciulla del West. The Met version is a splendid traditional account. Then there is a funny, camp satire on American culture starring Eva-Maria Westbroek. Now we have a Swedish Eurotrash version! Good operas never die---they just keep shedding their skins.