Inspiration för La Fanciulla?

7 maj 2010

Jag sitter här och ser ett avsnitt av Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, när det sändes på tv hette det Florens 1908, i DVD-boxen är det sammanslaget med ett annat avsnitt och heter Perils of Cupid.

I alla fall…Indy och hans mamma befinner sig i Florens, där ingen mindre än Giacomo Puccini blir störtförälskad i Indys mamma. Igenom hela avsnittet hörs naturligtvis Puccinis musik, La Bohéme, Butterfly, O mio babbino caro och så vidare. Det som dock gör mig lite upprörd är att de har klippt bort orginalslutet, där en åldrande Indy förklarar att när Puccini inte fick Indys mamma så blev han istället inspirerad och skrev La Fanciulla som handlar just om en kvinna som lämnar sitt trygga liv och följer sin passion istället.


100 bästa operorna – 57 Manon Lescaut av Puccini

11 februari 2010

57 – Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini

Manon Lescaut is an opera in four acts by Giacomo Puccini. The story is based on the 1731 novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost.

Time: The second half of the eighteenth century.
Places: Amiens, Paris, Le Havre, New Orleans.

Act 1

A public square near the Paris Gate
It is evening, and a crowd of male students and girls are strolling about a square known for drinking and gaming. Edmondo sings a song of youthful pleasure.

Des Grieux enters, but is melancholy and does not join the other students . They joke with him

The carriage from Arras arrives. Manon, Lescaut, and an elderly treasurer-general, Geronte de Ravoir, descend from the coach. At the first sight of Manon, Des Grieux falls in love with her.

Des Grieux overhears their conversation: Manon is on her way to a convent, following the instructions of her father. Des Grieux approaches her and begs her to meet him later; she reluctantly agrees. The students laugh, pointing at the pair. After Manon leaves, Des Grieux sings of his feelings for her.

Lescaut returns with Geronte, who also is captivated by Manon, saying she will only be wasted upon a convent. While Lescaut is playing cards with group of students, Geronte arranges to abduct Manon and take her to Paris. Edmund overhears the plan and informs Des Grieux. He advises him to accompany Manon in the carriage arranged by Geronte. Des Grieux declares his love to Manon and persuades her to go to Paris with him. They leave together. Geronte and Lescaut arrive on the scene as they disappear, and Lescaut proposes that they follow the carriage to Paris.

Act 2

A room in Geronte’s house in Paris
(Puccini omits the part of the novel in which Manon and Des Grieux live together for a while, then Manon leaves Des Grieux because his money runs out.)

The act begins with Manon as Geronte’s mistress. Manon and her hairdresser are in the room when her brother, Lescaut, enters. She tells him that Geronte is too old and wicked; he bores her. Manon is sad, and her thoughts turn to Des Grieux.

Musicians arranged by Geronte enter to amuse her. Geronte brings a dancing master; they dance a minuet, then she sings a gavotte. After dancing, Geronte and the musicians leave the house.

Lescaut is upset knowing that his sister is not happy living with Geronte, and he goes to find Des Grieux. Des Grieux appears in Geronte’s house. As they renew their vows of love, Geronte returns unexpectedly. He salutes them ironically, reminding Manon of his many favors to her. She replies that she cannot love him.

Bowing low, he leaves them. The lovers rejoice in their freedom. Lescaut urges them to leave the house at once, but Manon hesitates at the thought of leaving her jewels and pretty frocks. Again, Lescaut enters in breathless haste, making signs that they must depart immediately. Manon snatches up her jewels, and they go to the door. It is locked by Geronte’s order. Soldiers appear to arrest Manon, who, in trying to escape, drops the jewels at Geronte’s feet. She is dragged off, and Des Grieux is not permitted to follow her.

(Intermezzo: The journey to Le Havre.)

After trying everything to release Manon from the prison but to no avail, Des Grieux goes to Le Havre.

Act 3

A square near the harbor in Le Havre

It is dawn. Manon is in prison with other courtesans. Lescaut has bribed a prison guard to let Des Grieux speak with Manon. By talking to her through the bars, they learn that she is to be deported to Louisiana. A lamp lighter passes, singing a song while extinguishes the lights.

They attempt a rescue, but in vain. The guard appears, escorting a group of women, who are going on the same ship as Manon. She walks among them, pale and sad. The crowd makes brutal comments during the roll call of the courtesans but Lescaut inspires pity for Manon.

Des Grieux, in despair at the idea of being separated from Manon forever, goes to Manon’s side. He tries to seize her but is roughly pushed away by the sergeant. However the captain of the ship sees his intense grief and allows him to board the ship.

Act 4

(The following is a part of the original 1731 novel by Abbé Prévost but it is not a part of the opera: Des Grieux and Manon finally settle down in New Orleans. Later, he fights a duel with the nephew of the French colony’s Governor who is interested in Manon. Thinking that he has killed the man during their duel (he is actually only unconscious), he and Manon flee.

A vast plain near the outskirts of the New Orleans territory

The act begins with the lovers are making their way across the desert hoping to find protection in a British settlement. Wandering in the desert without any water, the ailing Manon is exhausted. She falls and can’t go any further.

Des Grieux is alarmed by Manon’s appearance and goes to look for water. While he is gone, Manon recalls her past, muses about her fatal beauty and her fate.

Des Grieux returns, having been unable to find water. Manon bids him a heart-rending farewell and dies in his arms. Overcome by grief, Des Grieux falls unconscious across her body

Manon Lescaut – soprano
Lescaut, her brother – baritone
Chevalier Des Grieux – tenor
Geronte de Ravoir – bass
Edmondo – tenor
Innkeeper – bass
singer – mezzo-soprano
Dancing master – tenor
lamplighter – tenor
Sergeant of the Royal Arms – bass
naval captain – bass
hairdresser – silent


Manon Lescaut was Puccini’s first real success, eventhough it had a troubled start. The libretti is a mess, and so many contributed to it that in the end they couldn’t credit anyone for it when it premiered. Even more important though was the public opinion was very much against the opera, because of Jules Massenet’s opera Manon that used the same story and was just a couple of years older. Puccini was simply seen as a copycat. Of the music the most famous pieces are Manon’s Sola perduta abbandonata, sung when she thinks Des Grieux has left her in the desert, the love duet from act 2 and Des Grieux’s Donna non vidi mai.


100 bästa operona – Flickan från Vilda Västern av Puccini

26 oktober 2009

65 La Fanciulla del West by Giacomo Puccini

La fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini, based on the play The Girl of the Golden West by David Belasco. Its highly-publicised premiere occurred in New York City in 1910


Time:1849 to 1850.
Place: A mining camp in the high Sierra Madre Mountains in California.

[edit] Act 1

Inside the Polka Saloon

At the saloon, Sheriff Rance is playing solitaire, while a barman is lighting the lamps. The group of miners enter the saloon, taking a break after a day working at the mine. Sid proposes that the miners play cards, while Nick suggests the men dance. However, Sonora refuses; he prefers to sit at the bar to be close to Minnie. One of the miners, Jim Larkens, is homesick and the miners collect enough money for his fare home. A group of miners are playing cards when Bello discovers that Sid is cheating. Sheriff Rance quiets the fight and pins the two spades to Sid’s jacket. Then the miners chase him out of the saloon. A Wells Fargo agent, Ashby, enters and announces that he is chasing the bandit Ramirez and his gang of Mexicans; he shows Rance the warrant for the arrest of Ramirez.

Nick announces a round of drinks for Minnie. Sheriff Rance toasts Minnie as his future wife, which makes Sonora angry. He tells Rance that Minnie is only toying with him. The two men begin to fight. Rance draws his revolver but at that moment, shots blast out and Minnie stands next to the bar with a rifle in her hands. The Pony Express rider arrives and delivers a telegram from Nina Micheltorena, offering to reveal Ramirez’s hideout.

The sheriff tells Minnie that he loves her and will give her $1,000 for a kiss. He also says he wants to marry her after giving up his wife. Minnie laughs at him (Rance, Minnie: Ti voglio bene, Minnie).

Rance tells Minnie that he has never loved anyone because he is a gambler; only gold fascinates him. But he is now offering Minnie a fortune if she kisses him (Rance, Minnie: Minnie, dalla mia casa son partito). But Minnie is waiting for a man she can love unconditionally although Rance suggests that the man is him (Rance, Minnie: Laggiù nel Soledad).

A stranger enters the saloon and asks for a whisky and water. He introduces himself as Dick Johnson from Sacramento. Minnie and Johnson sing about their first meeting, while Rance jealously watches them (Johnson, Rance, Minnie: Chi c’e per farmi I ricci?). Rance deliberately knocks over Johnson’s saddle to provoke him, but Minnie defuses the situation. Johnson invites Minnie to dance with him and she accepts. Angrily, Rance watches them.

Ashby returns with the captured Ramirez gang member, Castro. Upon seeing his leader, Johnson, in the saloon, Castro agrees to lead Rance, Ashby and the miners in a search for Ramirez, and the group then follows him on a false trail and in what turns out to be a wild goose chase. But before Castro leaves, he whispers a plan to Johnson: somebody will whistle and Johnson must reply to confirm that the place is clear.

While Minnie is busy on the upper floor, Johnson looks around the saloon for the gold and finds it under the counter. Minnie returns and asks him if he can help her to keep watch. She is confident that the gold is safe in her care. Nick enters and warns that a Mexican has been seen around. A whistle is heard, but Johnson fails to reply. Minnie shows Johnson the keg of gold that she and the miners take turns to guard at night and Johnson reassures her that the gold will be safe there. Before he leaves the saloon, he promises to visit her at her cabin. They confess their love for each other (Minnie, Johnson, Nick: Mister Johnson, siete rimasto indietro). Minnie begins to cry, Johnson comforts her before he leaves.
[edit] Act 2

Minnie’s log cabin, later that evening

Johnson enters Minnie’s cabin and she tells him all about her life. She gives him a kiss and asks him to stay till morning. Then she asks Johnson if he came to the dance looking for Nina Micheltorena. He changes the subject. Overwhelmed with guilt over his secret identity, Johnson tries to leave, but is prevented from doing so by heavy snow outside. Suddenly, they hear three gun shots. Johnson says he loves Minnie and will stay with her forever, swearing that he has never known Nina Micheltorena (Minnie, Johnson: Ugh! Neve! — Va’! Riposati sul fieno).

They hear shouting outside: the bandit trails lead to Minnie’s cabin, but before the sheriff and his men enter, Minnie hides Johnson knowing of Sheriff Rance’s jealousy. She is shocked to learn that Johnson is Ramirez, Nina Micheltorena having revealed this to the Sheriff. At first, Minnie does not believe them until they show her Ramirez’s photo given to them by Nina (Nick, Johnson, Minnie, Sonora, Ashby, Rance: Hello! — Chiamano).

After the men leave, she confronts Johnson saying that he came to the Polka saloon to steal the gold. Johnson tries to defend himself (Minnie, Johnson: Vieni fouri!). He swears that he would not want to steal anything from Minnie or from the miners and that he has fallen in love with Minnie ever since their first meeting; all he wants is to make a new start with Minnie but admits that he lied to her about Nina. Minnie asks him to leave her cabin (Johnson, Minnie: Lo so, lo so! Ma non vi avrei rubato!).

After leaving, Minnie hears a gunshot and she knows Johnson has been shot. She refrains from helping him, but when Johnson staggers in and collapses, Minnie helps him by hiding him in the loft. She tells him that she loves him and will save him (Minnie, Johnson: L’han ferito .. Che importa?).

Sheriff Rance enters Minnie’s cabin looking for the bandit. He is about to give up searching for Johnson when he discovers a drop of blood on the floor. Rance pulls down the ladder and forces Johnson to climb down. Minnie tries to stop Rance, but Rance gives Johnson two options: be hanged or be shot. Minnie cries ”Wait!” (Minnie, Rance: Che c’e di nuovo, Jack?).

Minnie desperately makes Rance an offer. If she beats him at poker, he must let Johnson go free. If he wins, she will be his. Hiding some cards in her stockings, Minnie cheats and she wins. Rance honors the deal and Minnie throws herself on the unconscious Johnson on the floor (Minnie, Rance: Una partita a poker!).
[edit] Act 3

Near the Californian forest at dawn, sometime later

Time has passed, and Johnson has recovered from his wounds. But he is still on the run from Ashby and the miners. Nick and Rance are discussing Johnson and wonder what Minnie sees in him when Ashby arrives in the town in triumph: Johnson has been captured. Rance is delighted to see this and he wants revenge; the miners all want Johnson to be hanged. (Chorus, Ashby, Rance, Nick, Miners: Ah! Ah! Hurray, ragazzi!). While Billy Jackrabbit prepares the rope to hang Johnson, Nick bribes him with some gold and tells him to delay the execution. He rushes off to find Minnie.

Ashby turns Johnson over to Rance and his hands are tied. The men want to hang Johnson as a thief and a murderer and, although he denies ever having killed anyone, he does admit to stealing although not from Minnie. The men do not believe him (Ashby, miners, chorus, Rance, Johnson: Scerriffo Rance! Consegno a voi quest’uomo). Johnson accepts the sentence and only asks the miners not to tell Minnie about his capture and his fate (Johnson, Rance, miners, chorus: Risparmiate lo scherno ).Johnson wishes Minnie to be told that he has gone far away to a new life of redemption and never to return (Johnson, Rance, chorus: Ch’ella mì creda libero). The miners get ready to hang Johnson.

Minnie arrives just before the execution and throws herself in front of Johnson to protect him. As she prepares to shoot, the miners try to take her gun by force. Sonora calms the situation (Minnie, miners, chorus, Rance: Ah! Ah! — E Minnie).

While Rance tries to proceed, she convinces the miners that they owe her too much to kill the man she loves. She asks them to forgive him. One by one, the miners yield to her plea. Rance is not happy but finally he too gives in. Sonora unties Johnson and set him free (Minnie, Sonora, chorus, miners: Non vi fu mai chi disse ‘Basta!’).

The miners bid Minnie farewell. Minnie and Johnson leave California to start a new life together (Sonora, Johnson, Minnie, chorus, miners: Le tue parole sono di Dio).

Minnie – soprano
Jack Rance, sheriff – baritone
Dick Johnson/Ramirez, bandit – tenor
Nick, bartender  – tenor
Ashby, Wells Fargo agent – bass
Sonora, miner – baritone
Billy Jackrabbit, an indian – bass
Wowkle, his squaw – mezzo-soprano
miners, men of the camp, boys of the ridge

La Fanciulla followed Madame Butterfly, and was the first big opera to have its world premiere at the Met. It’s a bit different to other Puccini operas that I’ve hard in that the music is more of constant flow, I can’t really remember any very distinct arias, except for Johnson’s last aria. It’s a very good example of the verismo style, but Puccini’s work to get it to be realistic also makes it a bit comedic at times. The first scene you have all the miners gathering in the salon, and they keep saying/shouting/singing ”hello!” all the time, probably to give it some American language flavour. I was very moved when I saw it, in a DVD recording from la Scala with Placido Domingo as Johnson. It’s not one of the most performed Puccini operas, but I wouldn’t mind seeing it some more.

Also la Fanciulla is featured in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. In one episode young Indy is with his parents in Florence, and they meet Puccini. He falls in love with Indy’s mother, and she gets torn between him and her family. In the end she breaks the contact with Puccini, but he goes on to write an opera about an American woman who leaves her old life behind and goes with her lover.

Here is the final scene of the opera. I would also recommend searching for Ch’ella mia creda, and you will get a wide rand of great tenors singing it.

Här är också min recension av uppsättningen som jag såg.

Gianni Schicchi – Glyndebourne 2004

13 juni 2009

Jag har bestämt mig för att försöka gå igenom de operor som finns på stadsbiblioteket och som jag inte har sett än, även om jag inte direkt känner någon dragning till en del av dem. Först ut är iallafall Gianni Schicchi, och den har jag haft lust att se sen jag skrev om den i 100-listan.

Jag hittade en DVD med en uppsättning från Glyndebourne 2004. (det verkar som att det framförallt är Glyndebourne-uppsättningar som köps in till biblioteket). Själva operan är en komedi, och väl det lättsammaste som Puccini har skrivit. Musikaliskt är den blandat. Förutom den kända ”O, mio babbino caro” är det inga enskilda stycken som verkligen står ut, utan istället bildar musiken en varierad väv som omsluter scenen. Det är för mina öron modernt, med en hel del disharmonier, men det hela uppvägs av de underbara, mer svepande, melodier som framförs av kärleksparet på scenen. På det hela taget lyckas Puccini balansera upp musiken, så att när man håller på att tröttna på det ena uttrycket så byter han till det andra. Jag har personligen svårt för operor skrivna efter Puccini, och det är väl kanske det att den här balansen försvinner och det bara blir disharmoniskt istället.

Den här uppsättningen utspelar sig ungefär vid 1800-talets slut, även om en del av kostymern är av betydligt senare snitt. Det är också en jämn ensemble, det är kanske kärleksparet, som spelas av Massimo Giordano och Sally Matthews, som sticker ut. Det kan ju också vara för att jag helt enkelt tycker bäst om deras melodier. Felicity Palmer som Zita och Alessandro Corbelli i titelrollen gör också fina tolkningar, fyllda av fin komisk tajming.

Det är en lättsam opera, och eftersom det bara är en akt tar den bara lite mer än en timme. Jag rekommenderar den, och kan nog tänka mig att den skulle fungera som en bra introduktion till opera och till Puccini.

4 av 5 förfalskade testamenten


La Boheme på en opera nära dig

15 january 2009

Letade runt lite på youtube och hittade en trailer för en filminspelning av La Bohème med Rolando Villazon och Anna Netrebko. IMDB hade inte mycket information om den, mer än att den gick upp på bio den 17 oktober i Österrike. Hmm, undrar vad chansen är att den ska komma upp på bio i Sverige? Antagligen ganska liten, med tanke på att Branaghs Trollflöjten bara fanns i två kopior och det är en opera som är mer känd, dessutom är ju Branagh en poplär regissör. Om den kommer hit lär den iallafall inte gå upp i Falun, så mina chanser att se den är minimala. Utifrån trailern verkar det vara en ytterst traditionell tolkning av operan, till skillnad från exempelvis Branaghs ganska radikala tolkning av Trollflöjten. Något jag gärna skulle velat se är Baz Luhrmanns version av Bohème, som har satts upp både i Sydney och New York. Själv har jag inte sett Bohème på säkert tio år. Vi har en gammal videoinspelning med Pavarotti hemma hos föräldrarna, och jag vet att jag har sett den många gånger, men som sagt det är länge sen nu.

Här är trailern för den nya La Bohème iallafall