Puccini's THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST at Lyric Opera of Chicago Jan. 22-Feb. 21 - Lyric Opera of Chicago

Puccini's THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST at Lyric Opera of Chicago Jan. 22-Feb. 21

Press Release Letterhead
For Immediate Release:
Friday, January 14, 2011


Lose those midwinter blues!
Head to the hills and celebrate the centennial of Puccini’s THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST
at Lyric Opera of Chicago Jan. 22-Feb. 21
starring Deborah Voigt*, Marcello Giordani* and Marco Vratogna
(*fresh from their triumphant portrayals at the Metropolitan Opera)
Sir Andrew Davis conducts the Harold Prince production
Tickets from $33 – www.lyricopera.org or 312-332-2244
Opening night broadcast live on 98.7WFMT and www.wfmt.com 

  DISCOVERY SERIES with Deborah Voigt, Marcello Giordani,
Sir Andrew Davis, and Roger Pines (moderator)
Mon., Jan. 17, 6-7 p.m. at UBS Tower, 1 N. Wacker Dr.
$16 at door or call 312-827-5912 to reserve

Sagebrush verismo! Rough-and-tumble characters, soaring arias, and a harmonically sumptuous score in the original “spaghetti Western” inspired by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show! Giacomo Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago in the famed Harold Prince production conducted by Sir Andrew Davis Jan. 22 through Feb. 21.

Chicago-area native Deborah Voigt stars as Minnie, the pistol-packing, poker-playing proprietress of the Polka Saloon, who caters to an adoring lot of miners during the California Gold Rush – and reads them Bible stories – while waiting for the man of her dreams to appear. Italian tenor Marcello Giordani plays Dick Johnson, a.k.a. the bandit Ramerrez, who steals her heart while planning a heist. And Italian baritone Marco Vratogna debuts at Lyric as Sheriff Jack Rance, who lusts after Minnie and will do anything to get rid of his rival.

The Girl of the Golden West had its world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera a century ago; Voigt and Giordani arrived in Chicago earlier this week fresh from a triumphant anniversary production in New York that earned rave reviews. 



(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). 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 made her role debut as Minnie last summer in San Francisco and just followed with a triumph in the role at the Met,” says William Mason, Lyric’s general director. “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 also triumphed in the recent Met production – he has a closer association with the Met than probably any tenor since the prime of Pavarotti and Domingo. He is the tenor of choice in the Italian repertoire. The Italian baritone Marco Vratogna, who is highly acclaimed internationally for his Puccini and Verdi roles, will make his Lyric Opera debut as the villainous Jack Rance. And Sir Andrew conducts. It’s a terrific way to celebrate the centennial 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 H. DeCosta and M. James Termondt, the Mazza Foundation, and the Estate of Howard A. Stotler.


Monday, January 17, 6 – 7 p.m.

Discovery Series – The Girl of the Golden West

Deborah Voigt (Minnie), Marcello Giordani (Dick Johnson), and conductor Sir Andrew Davis hitch up the buckboard and head west for a look at this most adventuresome addition to the Puccini oeuvre.


The Sat., Jan. 22 opening-night performance of The Girl of the Golden West will air live on 98.7WFMT and www.wfmt.com beginning at 7:15 p.m., with WFMT’s George Preston as host and Lyric dramaturg Roger Pines as commentator. The Matthew Bucksbaum Family is the generous sponsor of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Bucksbaum Family Broadcasts, with matching funding provided by The Crown Family and Richard P. and Susan Kiphart.


For production photos, please contact Carrie Napolilli after Jan. 19:  312-827-5923 or cnapolilli@lyricopera.org