[lit-ideas] Re: The Golden West

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 5 Dec 2010 14:52:02 -0800

I love the opera and enjoyed this description of yours, JL, but isn't it "De
Camp Town Races"?  At least that's the way I learned it as a kid.  Was that
a corruption of "De Compton Races"?  I can understand races near a camp, but
who would Compton be?  
From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
Sent: Sunday, December 05, 2010 2:09 PM
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] The Golden West
S. Puccini and W. Toscanini will be celebrating  the 100 years of Puccini's
little opera, "La fanciulla dell'occidente d'oro" --  a translation (set
into opera) of "The girl of the golden west", often  filmed.

The action takes place in America, but it is spoken in  Italian.

It relates the episodes of the 'gold rush' when many people  (including
Americans) _rushed_ to the 'west' (henceforthward called 'golden') to  get,
literally, gold (and get rich). It worked, notably in 1849. These are
the 'forty-niners'.

Puccini was able to quote in his delightful  score some melodies as sung by
girls and boys in the saloons of those days. Such  as "Sonora Slim", and
"Old Dog Tray", and "De Compton (Horse) Races" by  Foster.

---- When the opera opened in New York City a hundred years ago,  Puccini
was invited to a reception afterwards at the Vanderbilts who were then 
living on Fifth Avenue.

The opera was later performed, with different  degrees of success, in Italy
-- and elsewhere.

The main melody, "Ch'ella  mi creda libero e lontano" was sung by Caruso on
opening night, but never  recorded by him (due to a technicality with
Ricordi, the publisher of the  score). In his wartime memories, however,
Puccini's biographer, V. Seligman  recalls how he heard the Italian troops
Salonika marching along the tune in  1917. A sort of Tipperary, only

The "Girl" was played by a  Czech, and will be played tomorrow by La Voigt.
At the time, some people found  the casting not so okay as they would have
preferred (at least H. Bonner,  historian of the Metropolitan opera did)
Geraldine Farrar in the role. 

------- Etc.

J. L. Speranza
The Swimming-Pool  Library,
Bordighera, etc. 

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