07/08/16 - Santa Fe Opera Reviews

Posted by April Rutledge on 07/08/2016

Friday the first was opening night with Puccini’s Girl of the Golden West.  The sets and costumes were in a representative mode:  The Polka Saloon was recognizable as a bar, Minnie’s cabin was had a stair up to a small bedroom, and the third act was outdoors, in front of the Marshal’s office.

            The soloists and chorus had been carefully directed.  All stage movements looked natural, a big job with the large number of men on stage when the saloon was busy.  This opera game a number of the apprentices chances for short solo roles as well as sing with the chorus.  They all performed creditably.  A former apprentice, Craig Verm, sang the role of Sonora with a very steady high bass voice that I look forward to hearing in larger roles.  Alan Glassman and Raymond Aceto, as Nick the bartender and Ashby the Wells Fargo investigator gave finely-drawn characterizations.

            Baritone Mark Delavan, as Jack Rance the Sheriff, has a rich, dark voice that sounds better every time I hear him, with impeccable intonation and diction in Italian, German, and English.  His expression of his lust for Minnie was realistic enough that I understood why she had to draw her pistol.  Vocally, Patricia Racette is not perfect at the extreme top of her voice.  She is such an actress that I noticed I was paying more attention to her stage presence and the phrasing of the dialogue in her scenes with Delavan than I was to the tone.  I have heard more beautiful renditions of Laggiu nel Soledad, in which Minnie explains to Rance that she wants a love like her parents had rather than an affair with a married man.  Whatever you want to call this kind of effect on the audience, Miss Racette has it.

            As Dick Johnson, Gwyn Hughes Jones rounded out the love triangle with a tenor voice capable of subtlety, not just volume, especiallyl in his scenes with Minnie and the short Ch’ella me credo aria in the last act. 

            Conductor Emmanuel Villaume managed the score well, making me notice some orchestral details for the first time.  All the cast members, conductor and orchestra, chorus, and production team received their well-deserved cheers and applause at the end of the evening.  I definitely would recommend seeing this production if you are in Santa Fe this summer.

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