en-Western Flute Suite (flute and piano)
Third opus of arrangements devoted to the works of a composer still too little explored by flautists, this new Fantaisie sur la Fanciulla del West by Giacomo Puccini continues its foray into the heart of the style of opera paraphrases, a genre very popular in the salons of the second half of the 19th century.
After composing his Madame Butterfly, Puccini sets out to find a new subject. He left Italy for a trip through the United States, during which he attended a performance of "The Girl of the Golden West", a play by American author David Belasco. From then on, the theme of his next work is straightforward: the Californian gold rush of the 1850s. The plot, comparable to that of Tosca, centers around three main characters : Minnie, manager of the Polka saloon, falls in love with a certain Dick Johnson, an assumed name under which hides the much sought-after bandit Ramerrez. Sheriff Jack Rance, also very enamored of Minnie, comes to thwart this love story. In Fanciulla del West, there is no final tragedy : Puccini opts for an American "Happy End"!
La Fanciulla del West premiered on December 10, 1910 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York under the direction of Toscanini. Although imbued with poetry, this opera will never have the success of its three elders. Indeed, distancing himself from the bel canto, yet long awaited by the public, the composer offers the orchestra, in a way, the main role.
If the impressionist elements are already very present in Madame Butterfly, the Fanciulla del West reveals the strong influence of Debussy in the language of Puccini, allowing him to free himself from the Wagnerian heritage. Once again stimulated by the exoticism of his subject, the imagination of the Tuscan composer is invigorated by his research on Indian and American folklore heritage of the Wild West. The abundance of tonal scales and augmented fifths chords here structure the harmonic language, which has reached the confines of tonality. La Fanciulla del West is arguably the most modern of all its operas.
Like the fantasies on Tosca or Madame Butterfly, the "Western Flute Suite" immediately immerses the listener in the general atmosphere of the original opera, by taking up its main thematic contours. In particular, you will be able to rediscover the theme of the introduction to act 1, the aria of Rance, as well as Johnson's arrival at the saloon, embodied by syncopated motifs very symptomatic of the music from across the Atlantic of this period. The emblematic waltz of the budding love between Minnie and Johnson is presented in the form of a large variation, giving pride of place to the instrumental virtuosity and the expressiveness of the flautist.
Paris, March 25, 2021
Laëtitia Brault and Jean-Christophe Maltot
Arrangement : Jean-Christophe Maltot
Duration : 11'
World Creation : Christine Prod'homme et Guillaume Prod'homme, France, 2022
US Creation : Alice K.Dade, TCU Flute Festival, USA, 2023