Tuesday, September 26, 2017

September 26, 2008: La Fanciulla del West, London

2008-09-26 La Fanciulla del West (Puccini), Royal Opera House, London

Minnie = Eva-Maria Westbroek
Dick Johnson (Ramirez) = José Cura
Jack Rance = Claudio Sgura
Nick = Bonaventura Bottone
Ashby = Erik Halfvarson
Jake Wallace = Vuyani Mlinde
Sonora = Daniel Sutin
Bello = Kostas Smorginas
Happy = Quentin Hayes
Joe = Harry Nicoll
Larkens = Andrew Foster-Williams
Trin = Hubert Francis
Harry = Robert Murray
Sid = Adrian Clarke
José Castro = Jeremy White
Wowkle = Clare Shearer
Billy Jackrabbit = Graeme Danby

Antonio Pappano, conductor


Conductor: Antonio Pappano
Director: Piero Faggioni
Set Designs: Kenneth Adam
Costume Designs: Piero Faggioni
Lighting: Piero Faggioni


I went to Covent Garden with the tube, and I ate the most wonderful Pizza Funghi at the Piazza Cafe. But then it had taken forever to get the pizza and even though I had had a quick look at my opera ticket I never saw that it was 19 pm and not 1930 as I had convinced my self. Pizza was still good but it cost me 15 minutes of the beginning of the opera, it is not that bad, Minnie and Dick Johnson had not arrived at the stage yet. I was lucky, the staff in ROH let me in and decided that I could see the opera live from a balcony box. Not that lucky was that is was on wrong side of much of the Johnson/Minnie action. Looking at a TV relay would have been better. But Act 1 was really special, balcony box. But too many people had their head far out of the boxes and I was naturally in the second row but I could enjoy the chair and the music and singing.

ACT 1

Lost 15 minutes. But it was OK I had after all seen this production in 2005.

Jack Rance = Claudio Sgura. New Sheriff in town. Loved him even if he seemed a little too young, but he was like a young and attractive Silvano Carroli. He really reminded me of SC of ROH video/DVD.

Ashby = Erik Halfvarson. So unlike Robert Lloyd's more elegant Mr Ashby. This was a man who was drinking from his bottle all the time.

Minnie = Eva-Maria Westbroek. This is her favorite opera and her dream role but I find her too ... over-acting. She made me miss Andrea Gruber as Minnie. And wondering what would have happened if Sylvie Valayre had been ROH's Minnie. SV was a wonderful Minnie in Zurich 2004 and Berlin 2006.

Dick Johnson = José Cura. WOW, even better actor and absolutely wonderful.

Jake Wallace = Vuyani Mlinde. THANK YOU, ROH: no black-face-painted as AL JOLSON, just a black man in his own skin. BUT, I never saw him in the line-up at the front for the applause in the end of the opera. WHY: Jake Wallace is a short role but really important to be able to show our appreciation for his art. He was not just a part of chorus or ensemble. As important as Trin or some of the other miners (all white persons, by the way) that got their own line-up. He should have been up there with Cura, Westbroek, Sgura, Bonaventura Bottone, Erik Halfvarson.

(I just hope somebody will say I am wrong, he was there, I must just have missed him. And for the record I don't believe this is necessary racism, but it might just be a blind spot at the ROH.)

ACT 2

I am so GLAD that Wowkle (Clare Shearer), Billy Jackrabbit (Graeme Danby) managed to made some of their UGH into something less offensive (ah, eh, oh). That made this act better for me. Westbroek and Cura was really good together. And Sgura was just perfect.

What was wrong? The roof of the cabin, if you lived with kind of roof you would have snow inside. Another snowy issue. All the opening of the door, Wowkle exclaiming "it is snowing" (a blizzard, you know) and then Johnson also IT IS SNOWING. BUT no snow was seen from the opened door, it should have been snowing inside so that we understood why Johnson needed to stay in Minnie's cabin, you know, because of the blizzard. And how heartless it was that earlier Wowkle with her little baby on her back was made to go out by Minnie and later Johnson kicking her out when she hesitated because of the SNOW. The snow that never was...

ACT 3

GREAT. Great aria: Ch'ella mi creda. Minnie was really good.


AND of course I met a lot of friends from the Jose Cura connexion. We waited at the stage door. Cura, Westbroek, Sgura came, and probably others that I did not know.

0030 Norwegian time in my hotel---

Original blog post
OD Travel + Photos

For more reviews from my travels, see www.operaduetstravel.com
If you want to see more photos from my OperaDuets Travels, go to www.operaduetsphotos.com

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