Teatro Regio Torino: La Fanciulla del West

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by Opera Charm Team
March 10, 2024

Highly anticipated new production designed by Valentina Carrasco. The homage to Giacomo Puccini continues in the year of the centenary celebrations.

BIOGRAPHY

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INTERVIEW

While the first very short, silent films with western settings were making a splash on the silver screen, in 1910 Giacomo Puccini thought of transferring one of those stories of gunslingers and desperados to the prestigious stage of New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The result was La fanciulla del West, a completely original opera both in subject matter and musical style. On the podium of the Regio Orchestra and Chorus, Maestro Francesco Ivan Ciampa knew how to establish the necessary close collaboration between orchestra and stage, with his characteristic precision and vigour. In her debut at the Regio, Argentine director Valentina Carrasco – winner of the Abbiati Prize for Donizetti Opera 2022‘s La Favorite – takes her cue from the cinematographic suggestions of the libretto and score, proposing a new staging that pays homage to the western genre. Three performers acclaimed for their musical and scenic qualities fill the main roles: Jennifer Rowley makes her debut in the role of Minnie, Roberto Aronica is the bandit Johnson and Gabriele Viviani the sheriff Jack Rance. The new production will be staged from Friday 22 March at 8 p.m. for eight performances until Tuesday 2 April.

Composer and conductor, Francesco Ivan Ciampa returns to direct the artistic ensembles of the theatre after his last experience with Cavalleria rusticana (Regio Opera Festival, 2022). Conducting major Italian and international productions, in recent years he has directed Turandot and Madama Butterfly at the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago and Il corsaro, I masnadieri and Nabucco at the Verdi Festival in Parma. During his career he was also assistant to Antonio Pappano and Daniel Oren.

Valentina Carrasco signs her first direction for the Teatro Regio. Born in Buenos Aires, she studied music, dance and literature. In Paris, she continued her work in film and video. She has collaborated with La Fura dels Baus since 2000 and is co-author of XXX, the company’s most performed show. In the operatic field, with Àlex Ollé she co-wrote Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (Brussels, London, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Adelaide Festival, Rome Opera), in 2011 Francesconi’s Quartett (La Scala in Milan, Holland Festival, Lille) and Tristan und Isolde (Opéra de Lyon), in 2017 Il trovatore at the Rome Opera, Enescu’s Oedipe (Royal Opera House in London), in 2019 Manon Lescaut in Frankfurt. Outside La Fura dels Baus he signs the world premiere of a new version of the Wagnerian cycle at the Colón in Buenos Aires, the choreography of Luc van Hove’s La strada in Antwerp and Ghent, Don Giovanni in Perm, directed by Teodor Currentzis and winner of the Golden Mask in Moscow. She opens the 2019/20 season of the Rome Opera with Les Vêpres siciliennes directed by Daniele Gatti, a direction for which she is nominated as best director at the International Opera Awards in London. In June 2020 she signs Gianni Schicchi at the Puccini Festival, the first European production post-lockdown. In 2021, she staged Aida at the Macerata Festival and, in 2022, Simon Boccanegra at the Festival Verdi in Parma and La Favorite at the Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo, an Abbiati prize from the Italian Association of Music Critics as best performance of the year, then revived at the Opéra national de Bordeaux. She made her debut with Nixon in China at the Paris Opéra in 2023.

Debuting in the role of Minnie, owner of the “Polka”, American soprano Jennifer Rowley, acclaimed worldwide for her unforgettable voice and extraordinary stage presence, will be a guest of the Teatro Regio for the first time. She will reprise the role in July under the baton of maestro Daniel Oren for the season of the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. Two very welcome returns to the Regio: baritone Gabriele Viviani, as Sheriff Jake Rance, and tenor Roberto Aronica, as the outlaw Dick Johnson (Ramerrez). In the leading roles will be Oksana Dyka (Minnie), Massimo Cavalletti (Jake Rance) and Amadi Lagha (Dick Johnson). Completing the cast are: Francesco Pittari (Nick), Paolo Battaglia (Ashby), Filippo Morace (Sonora), Cristiano Olivieri (Trin), Eduardo Martínez (Sid and Billy Jackrabbit), Alessio Verna (Bello), Enzo Peroni (Harry), Enrico Maria Piazza (Joe), Giuseppe Esposito (Happy), Tyler Zimmerman (Larkens), Ksenia Chubunova (Wowkle), Gustavo Castillo (Jake Wallace), Adriano Gramigni (José Castro), Alejandro Escobar and Luigi Della Monica (a postilion). Eduardo Martínez, Enrico Maria Piazza, Tyler Zimmerman and Ksenia Chubunova are all Regio Ensemble artists.

Western settings and original use of technology, for a live “cinema” effect, characterise the sets of the new production designed by Carles Berga and Peter van Praet. Silvia Aymonino created the costumes that recall the atmospheres of Sergio Leone’s cult film as C’era una volta il West Il buono, il brutto e il cattivo they inspire photographs and historical documents. Gianluca Mamino is director of photography; lighting is by Peter van Praet. Lorenzo Nencini is assistant director, Agnese Rabatti assistant costumes and Chiara La Ferlita assistant sets designer. The Teatro Regio Chorus is instructed, as usual, by Maestro Ulisse Trabacchin.

‘It is necessary to renew oneself or die’, since ‘harmony today and the orchestra are not the same’, was how Giacomo Puccini expressed his desire for renewal in the early 1900s. La fanciulla del West, staged in New York in 1910 starring Enrico Caruso, Emmy Destinn and Pasquale Amato and with Arturo Toscanini on the podium, embodies this aspiration. The opera in three acts, with a libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini, is based on the drama The Girl of the Golden West by David Belasco, a play of strong contrasts of passion and adventure that proposes a clash within a love triangle (as already in Tosca), framed by the world of miners at the time of the Gold Rush, which so fascinated Puccini. The composer – as he had already admirably achieved with Japan in Madama Butterfly – evokes the western environment in music using American folkloric material, authentic melodies such as Jake Wallace’s “Che faranno i vecchi miei”, the song Dooda dooda day, exotic dances (ragtime, bolero), a Native American lullaby; he invents ad hoc melodies for the arrival of the mail, for the cowboys’ horseback chase, heralding the typical style of musical commentaries in American western films.

The protagonist of the play is Minnie, an energetic and generous young woman who runs the saloon of a gold digger’s village in California. Sheriff Jake Rance is in love with her, unrequitedly. Minnie’s life is turned upside down by the arrival of bandit Dick Johnson, who wins her heart; in an attempt to save him from the gallows, the young woman will go so far as to gamble her happiness in a poker game.

The Youth Preview, reserved for the Under 30s, is scheduled for Thursday 21 March at 8 pm.

The opera will be presented on Wednesday 20 March at the Piccolo Regio Puccini at 6 p.m., in a conference-concert with free admission conducted by Susanna Franchi.

TICKETING AND INFORMATION

Tickets for La fanciulla del West are on sale at the Teatro Regio box office
and on line on www.teatroregio.torino.it

Biglietteria Teatro Regio
Piazza Castello 215 – Turin | Tel. 011.8815.241 – 011.8815.242 | biglietteria@teatroregio.torino.it
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 11am-7pm; Sunday: 10.30am-3.30pm;
an hour before the shows

For all information and updates: www.teatroregio.torino.it

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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.

BIANCA L. NICA

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