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Ionarts in Santa Fe: 60th Anniversary Season (Part 2 of 2)

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Puccini, La Fanciulla del West, N. Stemme, J. Kaufmann, Wiener Staatsoper, F. Welser-Möst
(Sony, 2016)
Charles T. Downey, Santa Fe Opera, part 2: the 60th anniversary’s big-ticket items (Washington Post, August 4)
The big-ticket items on the 60th anniversary season at Santa Fe Opera are Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West” and Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” which got ten performances each. And Richard Jones’s new production of “Fanciulla” (heard on August 2) could make viewers agree with Puccini, who called this unwieldy work his favorite.

Periodic titters in the Crosby Theater confirmed that the absurdities of the libretto — like “Madame Butterfly,” based on a work by David Belasco — remain problematic. The title figure, Minnie, runs a saloon in a California Gold Rush town; rebuffs the attentions of the local sheriff, Jack Rance; and falls for a stranger calling himself Dick Johnson, who turns out to be the highway bandit everyone in town is hunting. Somehow the town’s residents decide not to hang Johnson, and Minnie runs off with him. Characters include “Red Indians” named Billy Jackrabbit and Wowkle, described as “his squaw.”

Patricia Racette had the vocal power and the dramatic presence to make Minnie almost believable...
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