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Posted July 18, 2011
La Fanciulla Del West is Giacomo Puccini's Western. This production, featuring Eva-Maria Westbroek, Lucio Gallo, Zoran Todorovich, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera is entertaining from start to finish. The sets have a more modern feel to them than a more stereotypical Western staging of the production, but they work - particularly the very pink set that Act II takes place in. Ms. Westbroek makes the transition from simple girl and emotional innocent to the more complex woman in love with a villain and determined to build a life with him. You can see her Minnie wrestle with the situation and make the choice that is right for her, as Minnie realigns her inner self with the reality of what her head and heart tell her that she must do. Lucio Gallo, who plays Sheriff Jack Rance, brings a depth to the character that makes him much more than the caricature that many choose to play here. Mr. Gallo's voice is well suited to vocal demands of the role, and his performance gives Ms. Westbroek that much more to work with. Zoran Todorovich does a fine job in the role of Dick Johnson, and is very believable as he falls for Minnie and chooses to change his ways.
With respect to the music itself, the Netherlands Philharmonic does a similarly fine job bringing the music to life, and freeing the performers to jump whole-heartedly into their roles. And the chorus is rock solid. As for the DVD itself, it contains a "Backstate insights" feature that is fun to watch and helps give some perspective to what goes on behind the curtain - and how important the efforts of all involved are. This is a very enjoyable production of this Opera, and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.