Puccini’s musical vision of the American West is vividly brought to life in Giancarlo Del Monaco’s atmospheric production. Deborah Voigt is Minnie, the girl of the title and owner of a bar in a Californian mining camp. Marcello Giordani sings Dick Johnson, the bandit-turned-lover hunted by the cynical sheriff Jack Rance (Lucio Gallo), who wants Minnie for himself. Complete with whiskey-drinking cowboys, gunplay, a poker game, and a snowstorm, La Fanciulla del West is Puccini at his most colorful.
Nikolaus Lehnhoff's Hollywood-style production updates Belasco's Wild West, perfectly reflecting Puccini's innovatory spirit. In a new angle on the age-old love triangle theme, corrupt Sheriff Jack Rance (Lucio Gallo) and charismatic criminal Dick Johnson (Zoran Todorovich) vie for the love of glamorous blonde and devout Christian Minnie (Eva-Maria Westbroek), finding her way in a man's world. Carlo Rizzi's idiomatic conducting draws excellent singing from a large cast and fine playing from the Nederlands Philharmonic Orchestra.
Piero Faggioni’s highly acclaimed Royal Opera production of The Girl of the Golden West, filmed in 1983, stars the incomparable Placido Domingo and American soprano Carol Neblett. It is considered by many the definitive production of this work. Faggioni’s amazing production brings the opera vividly to life. The realistic timbered sets are by Oscar-winning designer Ken Adam, whose film work includes Dr Strangelove and a number of James Bond films. Domingo’s heroic portrayal of Don Johnson is one of his most popular and one of his favourite roles. The Bible-bashing, gun-toting Minnie is a very taxing role not tackled by many sopranos. Carol Neblett made it her own with her gloriously rich voice and brilliant performance.
“This attractive and lively production of Puccini's Wild West opera makes the best imaginable case for it, especially the exuberant Barbara Daniels in the title role; while Domingo is at his peak, in 1992, as the nice bandit Dick Johnson.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2005
Decca has pulled together a blockbuster collection of many of opera's greatest hits from the standard repertoire. The selection is heavily weighted to the nineteenth century, and to Italian operas, but it does indeed offer a generous sampling of what the general public understands as the staples of the repertoire. It includes one Baroque aria, from Handel's Rodelinda, and several from the Classical era - two arias from Gluck's Orfeo ed Eurydice, and seven from Mozart's operas - and the rest range from the bel canto of Rossini to the verismo of Cilea and Puccini. The selection is primarily made up of arias, but includes ensembles, choruses, and orchestral excerpts.