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La fanciulla del West 

Minnie, barkeeper to a camp of gold miners, has fallen for a mysterious visitor from Sacramento. Meanwhile, a notorious bandit is on the loose, and Sheriff Rance and a lynch mob is hot on his trail. Minnie comes to the rescue.

Director:

Brian Large

Writers:

Guelfo Civinini (libretto by), Guelfo Civinini (libretto) | 4 more credits »
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Leonard Slatkin Leonard Slatkin ... Himself - Conductor
Barbara Daniels Barbara Daniels ... Minnie
Plácido Domingo ... Dick Johnson
Sherrill Milnes Sherrill Milnes ... Jack Rance
Anthony Laciura ... Nick
Julien Robbins Julien Robbins ... Ashby
Kim Josephson Kim Josephson ... Sonora
Charles Anthony ... Trin
James Courtney James Courtney ... Sid
Richard Vernon Richard Vernon ... Bello
Bernard Fitch Bernard Fitch ... Harry
Michael Forest Michael Forest ... Joe
Kevin Short Kevin Short ... Happy
Dwayne Croft Dwayne Croft ... Larkens
Hao Jiang Tian Hao Jiang Tian ... Billy Jackrabbit
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Storyline

Minnie, barkeeper to a camp of gold miners, has fallen for a mysterious visitor from Sacramento. Meanwhile, a notorious bandit is on the loose, and Sheriff Rance and a lynch mob is hot on his trail. Minnie comes to the rescue.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Music

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

Italian

Release Date:

8 April 1992 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

Version of La fanciulla del West (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beautifully done
20 April 2011 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Out of Puccini's operas, La Fanciulla Del West is perhaps his most underrated. That doesn't mean best though, La Fanciulla Del West lacks the poignancy, complexity and heart of Manon Lescaut, La Boheme, Tosca, Madame Butterfly and Turandot, but the opera isn't completely lacking in those qualities. Yes I agree that the story is interesting if fairly standard and the characters aren't always as memorable or plausible as they could have been.

But when it comes to the music, while not instant classics like Nessun Dorma, Te Deum, Un Bel Vedremo and Che Glenida Manina, it is basically typical Puccini. What I mean by that is that while having some haunting and somewhat unusual parts it is beautiful, melodious and written and performed with a lot of heart, the highlights for me being Jack Rance's aria and Ch'ella mi creda, the latter of which being perhaps the opera's best known aria. This 1992 production is beautifully done, the photography is never overdone or sloppy and the sets and costumes are evoked wonderfully. The orchestration is just as nimble as the melodies that form the crux of this pleasant score, and the conducting is every bit as impressive.

All three leads are superb a vast majority of the time and do a fine job bringing to life their implausible characters, and I was quite impressed with the rest of the ensemble cast. The best of the three is Barbara Daniels as titular character Minnie. She is everything Minnie should be, beautiful with a warm presence, as well as being very passionate and touching in the second act, and a lovely tone to her voice.

I have always been a big fan of Placido Domingo, especially after seeing him in Zeffirelli's Otello, which is for me one of the all-time great opera films and Domingo just owns that role. Seeing him as Dick Johnson has thankfully not made me change that. Not his best role by all means, but he is still wonderful. Appearance-wise he is very dashing, he still has that magnificent presence and that beautiful, powerful voice still captivates.

Sherrill Milnes is an interesting Jack Rance, and plays the role with an intelligence and brio showing notable chemistry with Daniels, particularly in act 2 where he is quite scary when he is rough with her, where he doesn't hold back and literally goes for it. However vocally he is the weakest of the three leads, he does sing beautifully-especially in his first aria- and overall it is one of his better and more musical performances after his vocal crisis in the early 80s but like in 1989's Aida(though he is better here) he does sometimes sound flat and tired. If you hear him as Scarpia, Posa, Renato, Iago, Rigoletto, Tonio and Figaro and in Lucia di Lamermoor, Il Trovatore and Ernani, you do hear a difference in pitch and certainty, on all these they are more precise.

Overall though, I really enjoyed it. My advice is forget the story and watch for the music and performances, and the beginning which is great fun and sets the tone of the opera nicely, they more than make up for it. Also the ending with Minnie and Johnson going off together leaving Rance alone in defeat was a great touch. 8.5/10 Bethany Cox


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