La Fanciulla del West


VIRGINIA OPERA | 1984

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LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST by Giacomo Puccini, based on the play by David Belasco
Conductor: Peter Mark
Cast: June Fisk, Carlos Serrano, Dennis Striny
Production: J. Beecroft (scenery), H. Rodgers (clothes) L. French (lighting)

“Contains such an embarrassment of riches that one hardly knows where to begin praising it. Excellent direction plunges the audience into the rough-and-tumble of those action-packed times…an awesome achievement. The pivotal card scene is a complete triumph. Brilliant staging in this scene and throughout makes Fanciulla an extraordinarily exciting evening of opera.”
Diane Goldsmith, Opera News (April, 1984)

“This production of The Girl of the Golden West would do credit to almost any opera theater in the world today, not excluding the Met or Covent Garden. The kudos for this production go mainly to Nicholas Muni in his VOA debut, for what I frankly believe to be the best stage direction the company has yet enjoyed. If this be a fair sample of Muni’s work, let’s hope he has been signed up for some future productions. He will be, indeed already is, much in demand elsewhere. What this gifted director has done is simply to bring out the work’s realism, its blood-and-guts verismo qualities in score and story, by getting the characters to act and interact with ease and naturalness. No posturing, no eye-rolling, no standing, arms outstretched, to sing to the audience. When one characters sings, the others on stage listen. The result is something close to the kind of total musical theater European audiences regularly demand but Americans rarely experience or expect. I found it convincing, dramatically gripping, even touching, a stunning production.”
Carl Dolmetsch, Opera Canada (April, 1984)

“…the VOA presented an outstanding production of La Fanciulla del West. The staging is marvelous, moving hordes of people around the crackerbox stage area with ease and security.”
Portfolio Magazine (February, 1984)

“…one of its best productions ever, I can’t imagine a better production of Fanciulla than the VOA has given it. Nicholas Muni’s direction makes us lose sight of the hokey and sentimental melodrama underlying Fanciulla. The movement of the singers and chorus looks so casual and comfortable–so natural–melodrama seems to be endemic to these people and this place.”
Tim Morton, WHRO FM (February, 1984)

“…superb stage direction, it was the most integrated production I have seen this year. And for sheer suspense, it was gripping. Both conductor Peter Mark and director Nicholas Muni have an innate sense for Puccini’s dramatic intent. Muni’s blocking of the characters and some of the dramatic devices he used showed how perfectly he understood the music.”
David Nicholson, Daily Press (February, 1984)

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