Overview

Puccini’s opera, set in the American West during the Gold Rush, brings to life the story of Minnie, a gun-toting, saloon-owning Sunday school teacher. All the cowboys want to marry Minnie. With a high-stakes poker game and the most romantic serenades from a bandit-turned-lover you’ll ever hear, The Girl of the Golden West is an opera worth going all-in for.

Music by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini
Premiered in New York, 1910

Running time: about 2:25
Sung in Italian with projected English translations

Be an EXTRA in The Girl of the Golden West
Register to audition here.

Artists

Meagan Miller

Minnie

April 1, 5, 8

Miller owns the kind of voice that made me sit up and take notice as soon as she launched into an excerpt from Puccini’s Girl of the Golden West. It’s a strong voice that’s pure throughout its range, and she wields it with the sure touch of an artist who understands the full range of emotions demanded by opera.
-Broad Street Review

Acclaimed for the expansive colors, rich tones and texture of her voice, soprano Meagan Miller is making celebrated debuts on important stages worldwide, interpreting the leading ladies of Mozart, Strauss, Verdi and Wagner. Her compelling stage presence, intelligently nuanced portrayals and varied repertoire have been applauded at such distinguished opera houses as the Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Hamburg State Opera, New National Theatre Tokyo, Metropolitan Opera, Oper Leipzig, Opera Monte Carlo, Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Volksoper Wien, Washington National Opera, and Wiener Staatsoper, among others. Orchestral engagements have taken Ms. Miller to such venues as Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw, Hong Kong’s Cultural Center, Los Angeles‟s Hollywood Bowl, Melbourne’s Hamer Hall, Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall, New York‟s Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall, Rotterdam‟s De Dolen, Scotland’s Edinburgh International Festival, and Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center.

Meagan Miller

Minnie

April 1, 5, 8

Melissa Citro

Minnie

April 9

Melissa Citro gave unstintingly of a bright and beautiful voice, singing with the utmost security and power. Her portrayal of the unhappy heroine was fully nuanced, demonstrating a complete understanding of this complex character. The song to the moon was ravishingly sung.
–Opera News

In the 2015-16 season Ms. Citro made her Washington Opera debut as Gutrune in their new production of Gotterdammerung, returned to New Orleans Opera as Rosilinde in Die Fledermaus, and made her debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s 2nd Symphony. Recent engagements include her debut with the San Francisco Opera as Freia in Das Rheingold, and Gutrune in Götterdämmerung, and her role debut as Sieglinde in Wagner’s Die Walküre with the Virginia Opera. Last season she covered Senta in Der Fliegende Hollander with San Francisco Opera, and returned to the Metropolitan Opera where she covered Renee Fleming in the title role in Dvořák’s Rusalka. Prior to that she joined the San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera casts of The Makropulous Case, where she covered Karita Mattila as Emilia, and made her role debut as Senta in Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s production of Der Fliegende Hollander. In the 2014-15 season she performed the role of Rusalka with New Orleans Opera and the title role of La Wally in her debut with the Dallas Opera. Future engagements include Minnie in La Fanciulla del West both with Michigan Opera Theatre and Opera Colorado.

Melissa Citro

Minnie

April 9

Mark Delavan

Jack Rance

The range of emotions Mr. Delavan can communicate with his half-divine, half-human voice appears limitless.
—Wall Street Journal

A singer of “incisive vocal power and fierce theatrical acuity,” Mark Delavan is sought after throughout the United States and Europe for the most demanding roles in his repertoire. He regularly appears in the title roles of Der Fliegende Holländer, Falstaff and Rigoletto, and as Iago in Otello, Scarpia in Tosca, Jochanaan in Salome, and Amonasro in Aida. In the summer of 2011, Mr. Delavan completed his first performances as Wotan/Wanderer in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen for San Francisco Opera’s new production by Francesca Zambello.

Mark Delavan

Jack Rance

Rafael Davila

Dick Johnson

Tenor Davila brings electrifying intensity to Sarasota Opera’s “Otello.”
-South Florida Classical Review

Tenor Rafael Davila has quickly risen to be one of the most sought after tenors of his generation. With almost 60 roles already under his belt, in the 2014-15 season he debuted as Des Grieux in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut under Maestro Plácido Domingo’s baton in Valencia, Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West and Don Jose in Carmen for Minnesota Opera, and Cavaradossi in Leipzig. 2015-16 engagements included a return to Washington National Opera as Don José in Carmen, Opera de Puerto Rico as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly opposite soprano Ana María Martínez, his debut with Chicago Lyric Opera in the world premiere of the opera Bel Canto, his return to Valencia for Aida, his debut with the Macerata Festival as Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana, and his return to Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Don Jose in Carmen.

Rafael Davila

Dick Johnson

Jeff Gwaltney

Dick Johnson

Jeff Gwaltney is a handsome Ramerrez [Dick Johnson], physically and vocally confident, suggestively sliding a gun into his hostess’ holster in the cramped cabin of Act II.
-The Times UK

 

Jeffrey Gwaltney was awarded the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Scholarship in 2010 and remained at the Washington National Opera under Maestro Domingo’s guidance until 2012. In season 2011, he was invited by Francesca Zambello to be a Glimmerglass Young Artist and returned to the festival in 2012.

At Washington National Opera, his roles have included: Abdallo (Nabucco) and Normanno, as well as First Prisoner (Fidelio) with the National Symphony Orchestra. His cover roles included Cavaradossi, and Oreste (Iphigénie en Tauride) and Pinkerton.

Jeff Gwaltney

Dick Johnson

Brent Michael Smith

Ashby

As a Studio Artist with Michigan Opera Theatre last season, Bass Brent Smith sang Colline in La Bohème, Second S.S. Officer in The Passenger, the Doctor in Macbeth and The Speaker in The Magic Flute.

Last year he was an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera, where his performance as Billy Jackrabbit in La fanciulla del West received critical acclaim by Opera News as a “standout.” Colorado Music Buzz praised him for “making the most of his brief appearances.”

He received his Master of Music degree under the tutelage of John Hines. He received his Bachelor’s in music in piano performance from Hope College (Holland, MI). Mr. Smith is a first-place winner in the Grand Rapids Opera Competition (2012).

Brent Michael Smith

Ashby

Jeff Byrnes

Sonora

Baritone Jeff Byrnes returned to Michigan Opera Theatre last season as a Studio Artist. He performed the roles of Schanuard in La Bohème, 1st SS Officer in The Passenger, Old Servant in Elektra and The Bonze in Madame Butterfly. Prior to joining MOT, he performed the role of Owen Hart in Dead Man Walking with Dayton Opera, and he covered Germont in La Traviata and Balstrode in Peter Grimes with Des Moines Metro Opera. Other operatic highlights include Leporello in Don Giovanni and the title role in The Mikado with the Natchez Opera Festival, and Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte, and Pilate in St. John Passion with CCM Opera. He was a regional finalist in the Rocky Mountain Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions in 2014.

Jeff Byrnes

Sonora

Harry Greenleaf

Jake Wallace

Baritone Harry Greenleaf is a native of Wixom, Michigan. He is a proud alumnus of the Michigan State University College of Music, and received a Master of Music at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In 2013 and 2014 he was a Studio Aritist with the Wolf Trap Opera Company. While there he sang the role of Baron Douphol in La traviata with the National Symphony Orchestra, and Monsieur Barbu in Les mamelles de Tirésias. In the summer of 2015 he was an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera, covering the role of Sonora in La fanciulla del West. In 2015 he debuted with Cincinnati Chamber Opera, singing The Pilot in The Little Prince. In the summer of 2016 he will perform with the Glimmerglass Festival as Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd. He made his debut with Michigan Opera Theatre in 2016, singing the role of Top in The Tender Land, and will appear as Moralès in Carmen, Jake Wallace in La fanciulla del West, and Le Bret in Dr. David DiChiera’s Cyrano for the 2016-2017 season.

Harry Greenleaf

Jake Wallace

Joseph Michael Brent

Trin

Joseph Michael Brent is an artist of Michigan Opera Theatre Studio. Last season he appeared as 3rd SS Officer in Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s The Passenger, Malcolm in Verdi’s Macbeth, and first armored man in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. In 2015, Mr. Brent made both role and company debuts as Mayor Upfold in the Bronx Opera’s production of Albert Herring and Edgardo in the New York Opera Exchange production of Lucia di Lamermoor. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Georgia in the fall of 2014 with a dissertation on selected vocal works of Giovanni Paolo Bottesini. He is a native New Yorker, a proud graduate of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, and holds an undergraduate degree from the conservatory of music at Purchase College S.U.N.Y. in double bass performance. He was a student of Metropolitan Opera baritone Frederick Burchinal.

Joseph Michael Brent

Trin

Hadleigh Adams

Bello

“A muscular stud in head-to-toe skintight leather…Overseeing all is the magician Zoroastro, sung by Hadleigh Adams with a dense yet flexible bass and a glowering presence, whether in the aforementioned leather, a pair of white briefs or a Santa Claus costume.”
—New York Times

 

New-Zealand born baritone Hadleigh Adams has received international acclaim for his performances on stage and in concert. He is renowned for his dynamic stage presence and ability to draw true, honest characters in his performances. His broad repertoire spans from Baroque and Bel Canto through Britten and contemporary composition. He has collaborated with some of today’s greatest artists on the concert platform, and on the opera stage.

Hadleigh Adams

Bello

Jonathan Blalock

Harry

In an opera in which all seven characters have complex and distinctive vocal sounds, Blalock was the evening’s standout performer.
-Opera Warhorses

Highly acclaimed for his work in 20th and 21st Century Opera, Jonathan has appeared in a number of world premieres, including Huang Ruo’s An American Soldier with Washington National Opera, The Secret Agent with the Center for Contemporary Opera in NYC and the Armel Festival in Hungary; Jorge Martin’s Before Night Falls with Fort Worth Opera; and Paul’s Case with Urban Arias, which Alex Ross in The New Yorker declared it as one of the top ten musical events of 2014, saying, “The tenor Jonathan Blalock was transfixing in the title role; Spears’s score glistened beautifully and eerily around him.” In addition, Jonathan sang The Electrician in Adès’ Powder Her Face with West Edge Opera, made his Virginia Opera debut as Cégeste in Philip Glass’ Orphée, and has sung in the same composer’s Hydrogen Jukebox with both West Edge Opera and Fort Worth Opera.

Jonathan Blalock

Harry

Benjamin Robinson

Joe

 Raleigh native Benjamin Robinson has the perfect tone and timbre for this music. His care for clear diction was outstanding, as was his evoking emotions within the poems.
– Classical Voice of North Carolina

Benjamin Robinson, described as a “charming lyric tenor,” is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina and is progressively becoming known for his “emphatic characterizations” and “easy vocal production and…luscious instrument.” This season Benjamin sang Basilio/Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro with Salt Marsh Opera, Larry/Matt in The Face on the Barroom Floor with Chelsea Opera (“musically strong, dramatically satisfying” – Opera News) and the Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings.

Benjamin Robinson

Joe

Briana Elyse Hunter

Wowkle

Mezzo-soprano Briana Hunter was a mesmerizing Carmen, contributing a fiery theatrical presence and dynamic vocalism. Hunter consistently displayed impressive fluidity in her flawless “Habanera” and “Seguidilla.”
— Opera News

Briana Hunter hails from Malvern, Pennsylvania where she was a student in the Great Valley School District, recognized for their strong music and theater programs. In 2000 she had the unique pleasure of working with Tony and Academy Award winning playwright Mark Medoff in a production of his play Gunfighter–A Gulf War Chronicle.

Ms. Hunter attended Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina and found herself on the stage once again, this time under the direction of the Royal Shakespeare Company in an original production double billed Infinite Variety/For Every Passion Something. The show would also have her call upon her vocal abilities as she presented “The Willow Song” from Rossini’s Othello in addition to playing the roles of Hippolyta in Midsummer Nights Dream and Lord Westmorland in Henry IV: Part I. The show debuted on the campus of Davidson College, and continued performances in the Fringe Festival in Scotland for an additional two week run. Back in North Carolina, Ms. Hunter went on to play Livia in Women Beware Women by Thomas Middleton, J.S. in Necessary Targets and “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could” The Vagina Monologues both by Eve Ensler, Karla Wonder of the World by David Lindsey-Abaire. No stranger to the music department, she also performed in opera scenes including 2nd Lady Die Zauberflote and Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, and the title role of Josephine in a full production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore. The Davidson Concert Choir awarded her the solo in John Corigliano’s Fern Hill.

She went on to attend the prestigious Manhattan School of Music for Classical Voice where she performed in mainstage productions with the opera department (Summer and Smoke, La vida breve, Of Love and Loss: Opera Scenes, The Ghosts of Versailles).

Briana Elyse Hunter

Wowkle

Dennis Petersen

Nick

Wonderfully natural singing actor.
— Chicago Tribune

Through his innate sense of style, command of languages, and superior acting abilities, tenor Dennis Petersen is sought after for a variety of operatic roles, including Tristan in Tristan und Isolde, Florestan in Fidelio, the Captain in Wozzeck, Aegisth in Elektra, Canio in Pagliacci, and the title role in Peter Grimes.

 

 

Dennis Petersen

Nick

John McCullough

Sid

Nick Davis

Happy

Dominik Belavy

Larkens

Glenn Healy

Billy Jackrabbit

Glenn Healy, a native of San Francisco, CA, holds a Bachelor and Master in Music from the University of Michigan where he studied with Steven West and Stephen Lusmann. With a rich and diverse history of performance, he was active with the University of Michigan Opera Theater and beyond. Most recently, Mr. Healy was seen performing Don Iñigo Gomez in Ravel’s L’Heure Espangole and Simone in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi in the University’s riveting double-bill. Outside of his scholastic preparation, Mr. Healy participated in a multitude of training programs throughout Europe, honing in on his craft and his mindfulness of the international community of opera. Such credits include the Moravian Masterclass (CZ), Tyrollean Opera Program (AT), and Music in the Marche (IT). In addition, he twice volunteered on organic farms in Italy through the World Wide Organization of Organic Farming (WWOOF), exchanging labor for room and board, in order to continue to master the language and to immerse himself not only in his heritage as an Italian-American but also in the culture from which many of the great operatic masterpieces are derived.

Glenn Healy

Billy Jackrabbit

Jesús Vicente Murillo

Jose Castro

At age 18, Detroit native Jesús Vicente Murillo made his professional debut with Michigan Opera Theater as The Android in The Very Last Green Thing.

For the 2016-17 season, the bass-baritone will be also be performing Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola with Opera Louisiane, Bob Noxious in The Final Battle for Love with Thompson Street Opera, and he will be covering Ali Hakim in Oklahoma, and Count Ceprano in Rigoletto, with Charlottesville Opera.

Jesús Vicente Murillo

Jose Castro

See all artists

Collapse artists

Production Team

Stephen Lord

Conductor

Mario Corradi

Director

See all production members

Collapse production members

Synopsis

ACT I

A miners’ camp in California, 1849–50. At sunset at the Polka Saloon, Nick, the bartender, prepares for the miners’ return from the hills. Jake Wallace, a traveling minstrel, sings a sentimental song that causes Jim Larkens to break down in tears. The men collect money for his passage back home. Trin and Sonora both bribe Nick to help them win the heart of Minnie, the owner of the bar, with whom all the men are in love. Sid cheats at cards, and Jack Rance, the camp’s cynical sheriff, marks him as an outcast. The Wells Fargo agent Ashby arrives with news of the imminent capture of the Mexican bandit Ramirrez and his band. An argument breaks out between Rance and Sonora, each claiming Minnie will be his wife. Things almost get out of hand when Minnie herself appears. The men calm down and sit to listen to Minnie’s bible teaching. Later, alone with her, Rance confesses his love to Minnie (“Minnie, della mia casa”). But she is not interested and, recalling her happy childhood, paints a different picture of her ideal love (“Laggiù nel Soledad”).

A stranger appears in the bar, introducing himself as Dick Johnson from Sacramento. Minnie recognizes him as a man she once met on the road. The jealous Rance orders Johnson to leave town, but when Minnie declares that she knows him, the others welcome Johnson. As he and Minnie dance, the miners drag in a man named Castro, one of Ramirrez’s band. Castro pretends that he will lead them to their hideout. He then whispers to Johnson—who is in fact Ramirrez—that he let himself be captured to lure the miners away from the saloon, in order for Johnson to rob it. The men depart with Castro, and Minnie and Johnson are left alone. She tells him about her simple life and that she is still waiting for her first kiss. When she shows him the hiding place where the miners keep their gold, he replies that as long as he is nearby, nobody will harm her or touch the gold. She shyly invites him to visit her in her cabin later that evening.

ACT II

In Minnie’s cabin in the mountains, the Indian woman Wowkle sings a lullaby to her baby and bickers with the child’s father, Billy Jackrabbit. Minnie arrives and excitedly prepares for her meeting with Johnson. Alone with him, she gives in to his declarations of love and they kiss. Johnson, full of doubt as to how to tell her about his true identity, is about to leave, but she asks him to stay for the night as it has begun to snow. When several shots are heard, Johnson hides in the closet. Rance appears with some of the men and tells Minnie that they are concerned for her safety—they have discovered that Johnson is Ramirrez. Minnie claims to know nothing and the men leave. She then angrily confronts Johnson, who makes excuses about his past and declares that when he met her he decided to give up his former life. Deeply hurt, Minnie sends him away. Another shot rings out. Johnson, wounded, staggers back into the cabin and Minnie hides him in the attic. Rance returns, certain he has found his man, and demands to search the room. Minnie refuses and the sheriff is about to give up when a drop of blood falls on his hand from above. Johnson is forced to surrender, but Minnie has an idea—she challenges Rance to a game of poker. If he defeats her, she will give herself to him; if he loses, Johnson goes free. Minnie cheats and wins. Rance leaves.

ACT III

Johnson has been nursed back to health by Minnie. Again on the run from Rance and his men, he is eventually captured in the forest. As the miners prepare to hang him, Johnson asks for one last mercy—that Minnie believe him free and far away (“Ch’ella mi creda”). Rance is enraged, but the men hesitate. At that moment, Minnie rides in, wielding a pistol. When her pleas to spare Johnson prove fruitless, she reminds then men how much they owe her. The miners finally give in and release Johnson. He and Minnie ride away to start a new life together.

Read more 

Read less 

Sponsors