Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West divides opinion. You’re either on board (or willing to forgive) the kitschy Americana, the composer and libretto’s romanticisation of the frontier, and the repeated “hello”s and, yes, “dooda day” choruses, or utterly turned off by this Italian opera set in gold-rush California. This reviewer is firmly in the first camp, delighted and swept away every time by the pure Hollywood of Puccini’s Girl. Its masterly symphonic bones, impressionist borrowings, and allusions to Wagner and Verdi aside, the Wild West becomes the stage for a story about moral redemption, forgiveness, and true, earth-shattering, momentous love.

Puccini

This Pentatone release is a worthy account of Puccini’s masterpiece, conducted by Lawrence Foster and featuring a solid cast of ascendent singers. As Puccini’s titular heroine, American soprano Melody Moore proves she’s one of those vanishingly few singers of real charisma. Her increasingly mega-watt instrument emphasises the character’s warmth and humanity, and she convincingly captures Minnie as both intrepid frontierswoman and young woman on the brink of first love. In the most taxing passages, Moore betrays some stress – some...