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This aria’s not big enough for the both of us, pardner

The Met: Live in HD series at Poughkeepsie’s Bardavon simulcasts Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West next Saturday

by Frances Marion Platt
December 30, 2010 12:28 PM | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Disorienting as it may seem to an American to hear a bunch of Gold Rush miners, Wild West gunslingers and saloon floozies singing at the top of their lungs in Italian, it’s really no sillier a concept than Chinese princesses, Egyptian high priests, Scottish madwomen or Japanese geishas doing the same thing in some of the world’s most beloved operatic works. And after all, especially clichéd Westerns are sometimes referred to as horse operas. So I suppose that it makes some sort of sense that Giacomo Puccini set the David Belasco play The Girl of the Golden West to music in 1910. One might even call it the world’s first spaghetti Western.

Though less frequently performed than many of Puccini’s other works, La Fanciulla del West is a piece with special meaning to New York’s Metropolitan Opera: It was the first opera ever to receive its world premiere there. And next Saturday, January 8 at 1 p.m., the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie will continue its series of high-definition simulcasts of The Met: Live in HD with that venerable institution’s current revival of La Fanciulla. It stars Deborah Voigt as the titular saloonkeeper Minnie and Marcello Giordani as her condemned lover, the disguised bandit Dick Johnson, with Nicola Luisotti wielding the baton.

While it’s true that the large-scale visual spectacle of grand opera comes over a lot better in HD format on a gigantic screen than it does on public television in one’s living room, who ever imagined that the mid-Hudson Valley held enough opera fans to support this immensely popular ongoing series? Even though Met: Live narrowcasts often run simultaneously at both the Bardavon and Hudson’s Time and Space Limited, the shows are known to sell out.

These Saturday afternoon outings may become even more of a draw with the launch of a new “Lunch & Learn” series in which the Bardavon is partnering with the fabulous Artist’s Palate restaurant, located at 307 Main Street in Poughkeepsie. Prior to each Met: Live in HD opera broadcast, ticketholders can opt for a three-course prix fixe lunch that includes a talk on that day’s production led by Leslie Gerber, who teaches music history in the continuing education program at Marist College, authors the Hudson Valley Philharmonic’s Playbill notes and is perhaps best-known in the region as WDST-FM’s longtime classical music host. Call the Artist’s Palate at (845) 483-8074 to make lunch reservations.

Tickets for the January 8 presentation the Metropolitan Opera performing Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West through The Met: Live in HD at the Bardavon are available at the Bardavon box office at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, (845) 473-2072; the UPAC box office at 602 Broadway in Kingston, (845) 339-6088; and through TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com. Seats are $23 for adults, $21 for Bardavon members and $16 for children age 12 and under.

Coming up next in the Met: Live in HD series is a new production of John Adams’ Nixon in China directed by Peter Sellars, to be screened on February 12 at the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston. For further information, visit www.bardavon.org.

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