Fanciulla del West, La (The Girl of The West)
  • Giacomo Puccini. Opera in three acts. 1910.
  • Libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carl Zangarini, after the play The Girl of the Golden West by David Belasco.
  • First performance at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, on 10th December 1910.
CHARACTERS
Minnie soprano
Jack Rance, sheriff baritone
Dick Johnson (Ramerrez), a bandit tenor
Nick, bartender at The Polka saloon tenor
Ashby, agent of Wells Fargo bass
Miners:  
Sonora baritone
Trin tenor
Sid baritone
Bello (Handsome) baritone
Harry tenor
Joe tenor
Happy baritone
Larkens bass
Billy Jackrabbit, a Red Indian bass
Wowkle, his squaw mezzo-soprano
Jake Wallace, a travelling minstrel baritone
José Castro, one of Ramerrez’s band bass
Courier tenor

Minnie, at The Polka saloon, is respected and in her turn helpful to the rough clientele of the bar, miners who drink and gamble. Posters advertise a reward for the capture of the wanted bandit Ramerrez. Jack Rance, the sheriff, is in love with her and is rough with Dick Johnson, who now comes into the bar, recognised and vouched for by Minnie. Ramerrez, alias Dick Johnson, has been betrayed by a former mistress, but now a bandit attack on the camp is planned. Later in the evening Johnson visits Minnie’s hut, to eat there and sleep there for the night. When a group of men come to see if she is safe, they show her the picture of Ramerrez, now identified as Johnson, who has hidden at their arrival. Leaving, he is shot, but staggers in again and is hidden in the loft by Minnie, who denies his presence to Rance. Johnson’s presence is revealed by drops of blood and Minnie gambles with Rance, her love against Johnson’s life, cheating to win the game. In the third act Johnson is caught and is about to be hanged when Minnie intervenes, successfully begging his life and freedom, and finally leaving together with him.

American elements serve to create the scene in California, with elaborate instrumentation. Minnie evocatively recalls her happy childhood in Laggiù nel Soledad (Down there in Soledad) while Johnson pleads to his captors not to tell Minnie of his coming death in Ch’ella mi creda libero e lontano (So that she may think me free and far away).