Opera Review: Puccini’s tale of girl power packs a punch


This Friday night, the Royal Danish Theatre welcomed a new rendition of Giacomo Puccini’s opera ‘La fanciulla del West’, an early 20th century classic with a libretto by Guelfo Civinini. The tale centres around a strong female lead who owns a salon in a Californian mining town.

What is it about bad boys?
What begins as a chaotic scene reflecting the daily shenanigans of a mine unfolds into a tale of love and secrecy. After being persued by many different male characters, the woman, Minnie, develops a relationship with a bandit.

This ‘classic good girl loves bad boy’ scenario leads to a series of schemes as the couple tries to evade the authorities and seek a new life.

Excellence across the ensemble
Despite being an opera with a slightly boring reputation, the story was brought to life by the remarkable energy of the cast. The opening act was emotional and full as every ensemble member whole-heartedly contributed, their voices and charisma filling the house.

The costumes were casual and convincing, reflecting a modern twist. Miners wore bright construction vests, each character varying in attire according to their personality.

Music and more
The highlight of the production was indubitably the orchestra. This opera is known for its superior score, and the pit handled this intense composition with aplomb. The music was both clean and strong. Tight and cohesive sounds provided the bedrock of the performance, adding crucial support to plot and character development.

Lighting was also a key component, adding small details that made the rendition original and creative. Extensive work was done to create dramatic shadowing – the final scene a breath-taking silhouette indicative of the couple walking into the horizon together, hand-in-hand.

The transitions, meanwhile, were seamless – all round, it was a very professional and sophisticated production.

Girl power
The female lead, Ann Peterson, was truly the anchor of the production. In a cast of almost all male characters, she took to the stage with assertion and power. Her unwavering vocals carried the production.

Singing the majority of the score for almost the entire two and a half hour production with relentless strength and vibrata, she proved to be a force. Her stage presence was demanding, her movements intentional and bold.

Operaen has once again provided a stellar production honoring a classic Puccini opera with impressive modern developments – a perfect boost of art and inspiration for your weekend evening.