After listening to the broadcast from the Met of Puccini’s La Fanciulla Del West last night, I asked myself who can sing the two principal roles in the opera? Certainly not the two who performed them yesterday. Deborah Voigt in the title role sounded like she was on leave from the old folks home, while Marcello Giordani forced his way through the tenor part. I worried that he might expire before the opera ended he was yelling so much. The baritone role is easy to cast as it makes no great demands on a reasonably capable singer. Nevertheless, Lucio Gallo bellowed his way through the evening. I heard Gallo in Chicago in 2001 as Iago. He was quite good, but nine more years of singing has stolen the beauty and ease he once had.
I can’t think of a good candidate for Minnie. Voigt’s sound is wrong for the role, her high notes were off pitch, and she seemed completely out of her comfort zone. Minnie is more than half way along the road from Tosca to Turandot. Renata Tebaldi or Antonietta Stella are no longer available. If anyone knows of a soprano right for this role I’d like to hear about her.
I was going to say that I couldn’t think of a tenor who had the goods for Dick Johnson until I came across Yonghoon Lee. This young tenor from South Korea has only been singing professionally for three years. He just made his debut at the Met in the title role in Don Carlo on November 29 of this year. He won’t be in the HD telecast this Saturday, but he will be on the radio broadcast a week later.
He’s singing everything everywhere. This is a major voice. A spinto tenor, maybe a dramatic tenor. And he’s also, dark, handsome, and slim. We can only hope that he doesn’t burn out from overuse. If he lasts he certainly has the voice needed for Dick Johnson. Here is video of this young singer’s rendition of ‘Recondita armonia’ and and audio of ‘E lucevan le stelle’ from Puccini’s Tosca.
And finally here is a blazing performance of the final duet from Carmen. Nadia Krasteva is Carmen.