by Mike Telin
Perhaps no seven-year period in history epitomizes the American dream more than that of the California Gold Rush. Between 1848 and 1855 approximately 300,000 people made their way west in search of the fortunes that were there for the taking in the California goldfields.
Giacomo Puccini immortalized that period of U.S. history in his three-act opera, La Fanciulla del West. Based on the play The Girl of the Golden West by the American author David Belasco, the opera centers around Minnie, the owner of the Polka saloon, her love interest, the bandit Dick Johnson, and the jealous suitor, sheriff Jack Rance.
On Sunday, May 14 at 3:00 pm at Severance Music Center, Franz Welser-Möst will lead the first of three performances of Puccini’s Girl of the Golden West. Sung in Italian with English subtitles, the cast features soprano Emily Magee as Minnie, bass Roman Burdenko as Jack, and tenor Limmie Pulliam as Dick, along with a horde of gold miners. Performances continue at 7:30 pm on Wednesday May 17 and Saturday May 20. Tickets are available online. The opera is presented as part of The Orchestra’s American Dream Festival.