Olivero FanciullaSince September “Trove Thursday” has been offering live performances every week for listening and downloading here on Parterre Box, but I realized I hadn’t yet posted anything featuring one of the “Queens of the Bootlegs,” so I now correcting that with Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West starring the great Magda Olivero as Minnie. 

After I’d been collecting reel-to-reel tapes of in-house and broadcast recordings for a while, one of my “pirate” contacts asked to see the list of things I’d acquired so far. He wrote back shocked: “What!? No Maria Callas? No Leyla Gencer? No Magda Olivero?” I had to admit that by then I’d heard more than enough Callas and Gencer’s bel canto repertoire didn’t interest me much.

But although I’d read about Olivero I’d never heard her. He was aghast and included at the end of a tape I had ordered a few choice moments from her Met debut as Tosca. Immediately I was gripped by her throbbing voice and over-the-top commitment.

There are several live Olivero Fanciulla performances “around” but this RAI broadcast from 1966 is probably the least well known. When I got this recording in college, I had never heard the opera and I have gradually come to admire it more than any Puccini work except for La Bohème. It’s not done often enough in the U.S. these days, although the Santa Fe Opera opens its 2016 season next month with a new Richard Jones production starring Patricia Racette.

Puccini: La fanciulla del West

RAI Torino
5 May 1966

Minnie: Magda Olivero
Dick: Gastone Limarilli
Rance: Anselmo Colzani

Conductor: Fernando Previtali

“Trove Thursday” offerings can be downloaded via the audio-player above. Just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

In addition, Fanciulla, Conti’s Don Quixote opera from last week and all previous fare remain available from iTunes or via any RSS reader.