Puccini: La Fanciulla del West
Plácido Domingo (Dick Johnson); Mara Zampieri (Minnie); Juan Pons (Jack Rance);
Orchestra & Chorus of La Scala; Lorin Maazel
Stage Director(s): Jonathan Miller
Puccini's Wild West opera has the California gold rush as its dramatic backdrop for a story in which Minnie, the only woman in a mining camp, gambles on her one chance of happiness. Lorin Maazel conducts a fine cast in Jonathan Miller's 1991 production of the compelling and evocative opera, which Puccini himself considered his best work.
"It is a colourful and striking production, with realistic sets and in-period costumes that take the melodrama seriously...Domingo is in superb voice and rightly wins ovations for each of his big solos. Juan Pons too is wonderfully firm and dark of tone as Jack Rance, and Mara Zampieri as Minnie sings with fine, clear focus with no suspicion of wobble." (The Penguin Guide)
"Dramatically, a fine singing/acting cast keeps the action taut, ensuring a powerful build-up to the near-harrowing conclusion. Lorin Maazel, as usual, can be relied upon to coax the orchestra into making the most of the musical high spots." (Musicweb International)
"[Maazel's] direction makes one marvel afresh at the imagination and colour in this score, distinct from other Puccini operas in its obsession with the whole-tone scale." (Gramophone)