Premiere of La Fanciulla with Kampe, Jovanovich and Lundgren in Munich, March 16th, 2019.

Anja Kampe and Brandon Jovanovich

It was my first premiere performance of 2019 – and the next one after premiere performance of “Otello” which I almost missed on November 23rd last year.

I love Puccini, but somehow “La Fanciulla” is not on the top of my list, nevertheless, with the right cast and staging it should come on par with “Manon Lescaut” at least. This Puccini masterpiece has not been staged in Munich after WW2, thus it is quite a rarity at this outstanding opera house.

There were several components that made this performance really great night at the opera: the production concept and staging was easily conveying the concept of Andreas Dresen about life of people who are working in the mining industry nowadays (and in fact, any physically demanding occupation, frequently far away from home and family), the cast was very strong and demonstrated great stage chemistry, and the orchestra was led masterfully by James Gaffigan.

The main protagonist Minnie was performed by Anja Kampe, and the role was surprisingly good fit for her voice and personality. Even if a few top notes came a bit shrieky, it could have been interpreted as expression of overwhelming emotion. She acted and collaborated with her stage partners easily, being just natural in the setting.

Anja Kampe

Dick Johnson was sung by Brandon Jovanovich, and I believe it is his best role up to now – have seen him recently in Queen of Spades, Lady Macbeth of Mzensk and some more – but this role is really fitting him like a glove. It is hard to imagine who else from current top tenors could deliver this role as good. I have seen also recent Kaufmann interpretation at the Met, – his character is a tad different, his husky, baritonal timbre makes Johnson more of a villain, while bright, youthful sound of Jovanovich pictures the story of inherited gangster business as involuntary choice – similar to those miners, he has decided to support his family undertaking calculated risks.

Brandon Jovanovich

John Lundgren as Jack Rance delivered impressive performance, strong both vocally and dramatically.

John Lundgren

Another collective protagonist in this opera is chorus of miners – and their performed marvelously, the sound the group created was so polished – either in lyrical or combative scenes – important to mention contribution of the chorus master Stellario Fagone.

The orchestra was extremely responsive to the cue of James Gaffigan, some nuances came out I have never noticed before, the only minor complaint was just a bit too loud volume, as in several episodes the lead singers were overtaken by orchestral force. At the same time, according to some audience members on higher Rangs, the sound was well balanced – those are just minor details depending on the seating arrangement.

The audience greeted creative team and the cast enthusiastically, and demanded the cast to appear for several curtain calls, – no disappointed viewers that night. For me – reassessment of Puccini list, and addition of Jovanovich to “must-see” list for the future! As great conclusion to this opera weekend, the announcement of new BSO season came out on Sunday, with many productions of high interest, so new season calendar is already fillign up with new opportunities for exploration and discovery!

Performance on March 16th, 2019

The Cast

Conductor James Gaffigan

Inszenierung Andreas Dresen

Bühne Mathias Fischer-Dieskau

Kostüme Sabine Greunig

Licht Michael Bauer

Chor Stellario Fagone

Dramaturgie Rainer KarlitschekLukas Leipfinger

Minnie Anja Kampe

Jack Rance John Lundgren

Dick Johnson Brandon Jovanovich

Nick Kevin Conners

Ashby Bálint Szabó

Sonora Tim Kuypers

Trin Manuel Günther

Sid Alexander Milev

Bello Justin Austin

Harry Galeano Salas

Joe Freddie De Tommaso

Happy Christian Rieger

Larkens Norman Garrett

Billy Jackrabbit Oleg Davydov

Wowkle Noa Beinart

Jake Wallace Sean Michael Plumb

José Castro Oğulcan Yilmaz

Ein PostillonUlrich Reß

Bayerisches Staatsorchester

Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper

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