Marcello Giordani withdraws from two performances of The Girl of the Golden West - Lyric Opera of Chicago

Marcello Giordani withdraws from two performances of The Girl of the Golden West

Press Release Letterhead
For Immediate Release:
Monday, February 7, 2011

Sicilian tenor Marcello Giordani withdraws from
two performances of The Girl of the Golden West at Lyric Opera of Chicago

American tenor Roy Cornelius Smith
will portray Dick Johnson (Ramerrez) on Feb. 9 and 12


Sicilian tenor Marcello Giordani has withdrawn from two scheduled performances of Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West at Lyric Opera of Chicago for personal family reasons, general director William Mason announced today. Giordani is expected to return for the February 15, 18, and 21 performances.

American tenor Roy Cornelius Smith will assume the role of Dick Johnson, a.k.a. Ramerrez, for the Feb. 9 and Feb. 12 performances.

Roy Cornelius Smith’s 2010-11 season includes two important role debuts: the title role in Otello with Arizona Opera, and the title role in Andrea Chenier with Nashville Opera. He also returns to Deutsche Oper Berlin to reprise his acclaimed performances of Calaf in Turandot, sings Braunfels’ Te Deum at the Concertgebouw, and returns to the roster of Lyric Opera of Chicago for its production of La fanciulla del West. In the 2009-10 season Smith returned to Deutsche Oper Berlin to sing Calaf in Turandot, made his debut with New York City Opera as Haman in Esther, sang Radames in Aida with Opera Birmingham, Erik in Der fliegende Holländer with New Orleans Opera, and Pollione in Norma at the Chautauqua Institution. Recent seasons included his debut with Deutsche Oper Berlin as Calaf, a role which he also sang in returns to Volksoper Wien and Opera Birmingham, also with Opera Carolina and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra; Erik in Der fliegende Holländer at Opera Grand Rapids; Pinkerton at the Steyr Music Festival in Austria and at the Aspen Music Festival; Verdi’s Requiem at the Kennedy Center, and with Nashville and Spokane symphonies; Canio in Pagliacci with Toledo Opera, Radames in Aida with Opera Birmingham and Hoffegut in Braunfel’s rarity, Die Vögel, at the Spoleto Festival, USA under the baton of Julius Rudel. He appeared as Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut with New Orleans Opera and as soloist in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra as well as Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. Smith is a former member of the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago.



(in Italian with projected English translations)

9 performances beginning at 7:30 p.m., except for matinees at 2:00 p.m.

Jan. 22, 26 (mat), 29 (mat), Feb. 4, 9, 12, 15, 18 (mat), 21        

In 1910 the Metropolitan Opera premiered The Girl of the Golden West (La fanciulla del West), a work Puccini composed based on a popular play by David Belasco, America’s most celebrated man of the theater at the time. If Fanciulla remains not quite as popular as La bohème, Tosca or Madama Butterfly, that is undoubtedly due to the rarity of dramatic sopranos able to meet the daunting challenges of the title role. Melodically, theatrically, and certainly orchestrally, Fanciulla is an immensely rewarding experience in the opera house.

            The heroine, Minnie (soprano Deborah Voigt), is a saloon-keeper in the California of Gold Rush days. She has earned the devotion of her bartender, Nick (tenor David Cangelosi); the miners who are her customers, especially the hot-headed Sonora (baritone Daniel Sutin); and Sheriff Jack Rance (baritone Marco Vratogna, debut), who hopes for more than just friendship from her. A handsome stranger appears in the saloon, identifying himself as Dick Johnson (tenor Marcello Giordani/Roy Cornelius Smith, Feb. 9, 12). Minnie falls in love with him, only to be appalled when she learns that “Dick Johnson” is actually the notorious bandit Ramerrez. But Minnie’s love proves too strong; in the opera’s thrilling finale, she saves the captured Ramerrez from the noose and goes off to start a new life with him.

            For this production, originally directed by Harold Prince, Sir Andrew Davis is the conductor with Vincent Liotta as stage director. The original production designers are Eugene Lee (sets) and Franne Lee (costumes), with additional designs by Scott Marr. Jason Brown is lighting designer.

The Girl of the Golden West was first seen at Lyric in 1956; the Prince production premiered in 1978 and was revived in 1990-91. “Deborah Voigt is currently making her role debut as Minnie in San Francisco, and will reprise the role at the Met before returning to Chicago,” says Mason. “We are continuing our wonderful tradition of American sopranos (first Eleanor Steber, then Carol Neblett and Marilyn Zschau) as this quintessentially American character. Marcello Giordani  has a closer association with the Met than probably any tenor since the prime of Pavarotti and Domingo – he’s the tenor of choice in the Italian repertoire. Marco Vratogna, who recently had a fine success in San Francisco as Iago, will make his Lyric Opera debut as the villainous Jack Rance. And Sir Andrew conducts. It will be a terrific way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this great work!”

The Girl of the Golden West  is The Gramma Fisher Foundation of Marshalltown, Iowa, Production. The revival is made possible by the Walter E. Heller Foundation in loving memory of Alyce DeCosta and M. James Termondt, and the Mazza Foundation.