Gold rush at the Vienna State Opera! Puccini’s “Western” opera La fanciulla del West confronts gold diggers, gambling, revolvers and whiskey with homesickness, yearning and unbelievable loneliness: the rediscovery of an (unjustly) oft-forgotten opera with Nina Stemme and Jonas Kaufmann in the leading roles – “the opera's must-see couple for a generation” (Financial Times).

There are three star parts to fill, all forbiddingly difficult to sing: Nina Stemme as the warm-hearted Minnie offers the whole emotional breadth of this highly dramatic role, from the vulnerable female to the great tragedian, “brilliant, deeply moving, secure on the high notes” (Kurier). In his role debut, Jonas Kaufmann as the wanted and notorious bandit Ramerrez proves “ideally cast, full of power, with his breathtakingly beautiful baritone timbre, full of mellow italianità” (Kurier), “a debutant in what is already one of his best roles – pure joy for the audience” (Die Welt). Tomasz Konieczny, playing Sheriff Jack Rance, “holds our attention with his powerfully expressive, glorious baritone” (Opernglas).

It was in the year 1910 that La Fanciulla enjoyed its successful premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Toscanini was on the rostrum and Enrico Caruso, no less, sang the male lead. After “La Bohème”, “Tosca” and “Madama Butterfly” Puccini had gone to America in search of new material and new musical influences. His Wild West opera is shot through with elements of jazz, of ragtime, and we can also sense the Impressionist influence of Debussy. All this makes the work one of Puccini’s most modern compositions and he himself described his “Fanciulla” as the best of his operas. “The rich playing of the Vienna orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst shows up the colour and detail of Puccini’s score to spectacular effect” (Financial Times).

Director Marco Arturo Marelli transfers the action from the frontier gold diggers’ camp to the present, to the modern-day world of penniless miners earning a pittance and finding out the meaning of life the hard way. And in this harsh landscape, a passionate, all-conquering love blossoms. Puccini relies on the classic dramaturgical device of the treacherous triangle: a woman (saloon owner Minnie) caught between two male rivals – the heroic tenor (bandit Ramerrez) and his baritone challenger (Sheriff Jack Rance). “They get as near to a Hollywood star duo in a Wild West romance as the world of opera ever plausibly does.” (Financial Times)


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Associated Collections

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Music Drama

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150 Years Vienna State Opera

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Jonas Kaufmann

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Giacomo Puccini

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Operas for the whole family

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Franz Welser-Möst

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Tomasz Konieczny

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Vienna State Opera