Lawrence Foster conducts Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West (The Maiden of the West), together with the Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Cluj-Napoca and a cast of seasoned Puccini singers, including Melody Moore (Minnie), Marius Vlad (Dick Johnson) and Lester Lynch (Jack Rance).
Puccini’s “Spaghetti Western” is not only an exploration of the New World, with the delightfully charismatic saloon owner Minnie running the show, but equally of new music, a pioneering work full of harmonic innovation and state-of-the-art orchestration effects. The depth of the orchestration, as well as of the various ensemble scenes that are characteristic of the opera, fully comes to life in this studio recording.
Lawrence Foster has a vast Pentatone discography, including operettas and operas such as Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus (2018) and Der Zigeunerbaron (2016), as well as Verdi’s Otello (2017). You will find all the DSD albums featuring conductor Lawrence Foster at NativeDSD here. The latter album – Otello – features Melody Moore and Lester Lynch, who have also starred in recordings of Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Puccini’s Il Tabarro (both 2020).
Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Cluj-Napoca
Lawrence Foster, Conductor
Melody Moore – Soprano
Lester Lynch – Baritone
Marius Vlad – Tenor
Amitai Pati – Tenor
Martin-Jan Nijof – Bass
Kevin Short – Bass Baritone
Total time: 02:12:26
|Balance Engineer & Editing||
Jean-Marie Geijsen (Polyhymnia International B.V.)
|Original Recording Format|
Studio of Radio Cluj, Romania, June 2019.
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||February 4, 2021|
On December 10, 1910, La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the West) premiered in the Met Puccini’s New York opera. Emmy Destinn and Enrico Caruso sang the leading roles. The audience gave the singers and the composer a triumph that was rare in this famous house. Nevertheless, the opera remained a stepchild in the repertoire.
In this new recording, Lawrence Foster’s tense, dramatic, somber, and yet also extremely lyrical interpretation is what makes the recording so appealing. Although there is no death scene in La Fanciulla del West, unlike other Puccini operas, there is something consistently negative about the whole plot of melancholy, sadness, and dissatisfaction, which is only opposed by the honest, combative love of Minnie. As a commentator on the plot, the orchestra becomes another character in the opera.
Melody Moore can ideally embody the saloon owner Minnie. In this opera, she tries to take as much as possible out of even the shortest movements. Marius Vlad can’t let Domingo be forgotten, but he’s an excellent actor.
It is mainly because of Lawrence Foster’s conducting that this new production deserves interest. It does justice to a work that has often been unjustly criticized, but whose qualities were once praised by Anton Webern (in a letter to Arnold Schönberg) for a reason. There is “not a gram of kitsch” in it, said Webern, and that is exactly what distinguishes Foster’s interpretation. It is a piece from life, tight, dramatic, and often poignant.
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