The Girl of the Golden West reviews

April 2017

The Girl of the Golden West

Tickets, info


Rick LaDue – South Lyon

Our first trip to Michigan Opera Theatre was wonderful. The opera was well performed and the music excellent. Beautiful old building. It’s been a very long time since I’ve attended an opera of any kind… but this one will likely lead to many more. Great job by the entire cast , crew and orchestra


Eleanor – Harrison Twp.

Superb! Meagan Miller is outstanding as Minnie. Rafael Davila and Mark Delavan were wonderful! Everyone should see/hear this production. Thank you MOT for bringing this to Detroit.


Sam – Grosse Pointe Park

First time I’ve seen this opera. Wonderful music. Moving story captures the personalities of the old west incitefully and with depth. Fabulous soprano. Excellent sets and costumes.


Sandra – Troy

Great performance last night.
Loved every minute of it.
Love story with a good ending, very unusual for Puccini. Worth watching!!!


Marshall Weingarden – Milford

The first ‘spaghetti western’. The story reflects a romantic European perspective on the American West and the California Gold Rush. Puccini’s music is wonderful as was the excellent performance by the MOT orchestra. The voices are all very strong, perfectly balanced and well suited to their roles. Acting is good. Sets and costumes provide just the right touch. It’s not a compelling story, but certainly entertaining and well presented by the MOT. Recommended.


Miriam – Bloomfield Hills

This little-known and seldom-performed work showed a different side of Puccini. While the absence of a clearly show-stopping aria was disappointing (no Un Bel Di here, alas), the cast dove into the Wild West-by-way-of-Milan story with gusto. Meagan Miller, our Minnie for opening night, gave her all. A bit less impressive was Rafael Davila, in the admittedly thankless role of Dick Johnson. My personal favourite in the cast was Mark Delavan (Rance). He provided some of the more satisfying moments, both musically and dramatically. For those wishing to complete their Puccini experience, Girl of the Golden West is recommended.


Craig – Milford

Well acted and sung by a great cast. Interesting story, not much subtlety. Italian romantic presentation of Americana. Music is excellent, but missed Puccini’s signature heartfelt soaring melodies in the arias. Seems like there was some Andrew Lloyd Weber phantom melodies that Puccini wrote prior to Phantom. Interesting.


Mary Jane Doerr – Auburn Hills

A great surprise awaits everyone going to see MOT’s latest creation! The right combination of fantastic singing, stunning sets, beautiful music ignites all kinds of images of wild west days and mining life in California.


David Arcangeli – Rochester

Wonderful music! Beautiful voices! Highly recommend it!


Not impressed – Detroit

My husband and I were not impressed with this opera. There were, in our opinion, no memorable duets, solos, etc. The music sounded like it was a prelude (or draft) to Madame Butterfly. It was quite flat, in fact. I heard many people around me voicing the same opinion. The house was half full. Moreover, there were two ushers sitting a few rows behind us THAT TALKED CONSTANTLY. I turned around and glared at them at least 6 times and they were unfazed and just stared back. Incredibly rude and distracting. If the Michigan Opera house is going to limit itself to three operas a season, they should pick classics with memorable pieces. At $140 a ticket I EXPECT BETTER. We shall turn our attention to Ann Arbor operas in the future.


Margaret Keefe – Bloomfield Hills

The best opera I’ve seen in years. The staging, the music, the singers were all exceptional. The story was fun . Don’t know why this opera is not staged more often.


Dianne – Walled Lake

Outstanding performance. The music was spectacular and the voices were wonderful and well suited for each other. The acting was very good as were the sets and costumes. Depending on work, I will try to see it again.


Evert – Dallas, TX

Opening night performance of Puccini’s “The Girl of the Golden West” by the MOT was fantastic. Execution and range of alto soprano Meagan Miller as Minnie was amazing.
ps., Puccini estate sued Webber for plagiarism. Settled out of court.


Keith Otis Edwards – Dearborn

Why is this fine opera not as well known nor as oft performed as Turandot? The obvious answer is that La fanciulla del West lacks a show-stopper aria such as Nessun Dorma (“See who’s at the door”).
But if one were to remove the three minutes of Nessun Dorma, the remaining music of Turandot (with its chop-suey faux orientalism that was a periodic fad among European composers) isn’t as consistently fine as that of La fanciulla del West, and the story isn’t as good either. This may be due to the fact that an ailing Puccini did not live to complete and perfect Turnadot, but whatever the reason, La fanciulla del West is the better opera.
If you have hesitated to attend a performance of La fanciulla del West, because you have been led to believe that it is not up to the standards of Puccini’s other work, you have been misinformed. This is the first performance of it I have witnessed, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Meagan Miller has a powerful voice, and hearing her belt it out is in itself worth the price of admission.
My only complaint is a minor one. In Act II, Puccini’s score calls for a wind machine. This is an old stage device which consists of a barrel of silk which is rotated over staves, thus generating the sound of wind but no actual wind. The sound effect is used to enhance the scene of an approaching blizzard, and the wind machine was the standard device used in the theater of Puccini’s time. Today, we have digital recordings available to replace the stage effects of the past. Stage directors would not hesitate to replace the old tin sheet with digitally-recorded thunder, so why not use recorded wind and consign that old wind machine to the basement along with the mechanical swan from Lohengrin?
I was also disappointed that no horses were used in this production. How can you have a Western without horses? I hope that this is not the result of the same movement which shut down the Ringling Brothers circus, because horses have their own union — the Teamsters logo features horses prominently displayed.

Doug – Ferndale

I mirror Sam from Grosse Point Park . I remain a bit fascinated how Puccini visualized the drama portion and the complex plot of the opera. Surprise entry for the season.


Gordon – Corktown

I agree with most of what others have posted about the opening performance of La Fanciulla. The orchestra, voices, chorus, staging, sets, and costumes were very well done. I’d like to recognize David DiChiera and all those who have been leading MOT. I realize that Wayne Brown is now President and CEO of MOT, but obviously the decision to mount this Puccini opera was made while DiChiera was still at the helm.
I’m unable to travel to other cities such as Chicago, San Francisco, or New York to attend opera performances, so almost all my opera-going has been confined to Detroit, and to a lesser extent to Ann Arbor. I am so proud of what MOT has accomplished in its nearly 50 years existence. I remember some of the earliest productions, including the Barber of Seville with Kathleen Battle and Lucia di Lammermoor with Catherine Malfitano. What has evolved in addition to a glorious opera house is the MOT orchestra, conducting, staging, and overall high quality of the voices. La Fanciulla del West is a fine example of this.
Meagan Miller was the standout in a role that places heavy demands on a dramatic soprano voice. Her voice combined tonal beauty, dramatic nuance, volume, and a command of some of the challenging tessitura. Harry Greenleaf was winning as the traveling minstrel. Another standout was Dennis Petersen as Nick the bartender. Really, all the voices were quite good, although Briana Elyse Hunter as Wowkle seemed unable at times to project her voice over the orchestration. Rafael Davila as Dick Johnson, aka Ramirez, has a lovely tenor voice. His short aria in Act III was beautifully sung. Mark Delavan was suitably villanous as Jack Rance. He has a strong baritone and a commanding stage presence. I don’t know who has yet been cast for the role of Scarpia in next season’s production of Puccini’s Tosca, but Delavan seems made for the part! And really, kudos to Chorus Master Suzanne Mallare Acton for her fine work in bringing together these male voices in a way that gave real force and character to the miners.
One reviewer here was surprised and upset by the lack of stop-and-stand arias such as Un Bel di Vedremo. There’s a lot to be said for acquainting oneself with any opera before shelling out $155 or more per ticket. A quick perusal of the libretto would have alerted this reviewer to the fact that this was a different opera from La Boheme or Madame Butterfly. I love this opera and value it as highly as the other two Puccini works or Tosca, Manon Lescaut, or Turandot, and, I would add, Il Trittico. I’m glad Butterfly is what it is, but likewise love La Fanciulla for its kind of Wagnerian or Straussian orchestral sweep. It just flows along with a real verismo feel.
I’ve waited years to see this opera. MOT’s production did not disappoint one bit; in fact, when I came home I grabbed my version with Ghena Dimitrova as Minnie and enjoyed listening to it all over again. Thank you, MOT!
Here are a few of my hopes for further productions: Andrea Chenier, Cosi Fan Tutte, Romeo and Juliet, and Maria Stuarda.
Keep up the great work, MOT!

Michele Mooney – Detroit

This was a superb performance by the MOT. Soprano Meagan Miller was terrific as Minnie and the rich voice of Rafael Davila was perfect for the outlaw she loves . Mark Delavant was suitably threatening as the bullying sheriff. The orchestra and cast of miners were very effective. We loved the whole performance.


Frank – Mount Pleasant

This was a terrific performance of one of Puccini’s best, but little-known operas. Meagan Miller was fabulous as Minnie (what a voice) and Rafael Davila did a fine job as Johnson, despite some issues in the upper register of his voice. The orchestra sounded wonderful and the sets and costuming, while very traditional, fit the production well. This is not an easy opera to pull off, and MOT really outdid themselves. Excellent supporting cast, too and strong conducting from Maestro Lord. Bravi tutti!!


Peggy – Northville

A wonderful opera! The music was beautiful. Acting, scenery, everything was perfect. I’d definitely recommend this opera. So happy MOT brought this to Detroit. Not a well-known opera, but a great one indeed.


Dorothy – Dearborn

This Opera was Fantastic! We enjoyed the entire evening. We are most grateful to the Berman Family for all they have done for Opera in Detroit. Like so many asked, why isn’t this Opera done more often? It is worthy of more frequent performances. Thanks for presenting this Pucinni work.


Michael D Goler – Cleveland

It was a wonderful production. Minnie was wonderful, Johnson/Ramirez sang lustily, and the chorus was well trained. The production was true to the story (fortunately, in my opinion, NOT a bizarre “modernized” setting as so often happens these days). Once one gets over the story gaps (as often occurs in opera), the whole thing worked very well. Bravo, MOT!


sandra – Commerce

We loved this opera. The music was melodious, the acting was very well done. Minnie was wonderful. She had to work hard to carry this off, and she was able to do that. Rance was equally great. This was a wonderful opera and we are glad that we were able to be there. David DiChiera had done an exceptional job choosing these operas.


Jan – Riverview

Great performance and story line. A little slow in beginning but second and third act were amazing. Lead singer, beautiful voice.


brenda – Ann Arbor

beautiful voices! beautiful music! thank you for the wonderful night with my daughter and friends!


WW – West Bloomfield

Different, no one died.
25 gold miners signing Italian?
Overall enjoyable evening.


Dan – Rochester Hills

Exceptional evening. Great cast, great music, great orchestra, great chorus, great everything. The breadth and depth of Puccini’s esthetic sense is amazing. What a brilliant talent he was! Have a nice dinner, a glass or two of champagne, and enjoy an evening of the great Puccini – it does not get any better than this.


Ruth Ann – Windsor

Yesterday I experienced my first full length opera in the beautiful Detroit Opera House.
I loved it! Such beautiful music, simple but perfect set, amazing singing and powerful ending.
And what fun…Italian music and words in the Wild West! Such a delightful juxtaposition!
And thank you for the music! The orchestra was wonderful along with everything!


Richard Miller – West Chester, PA

A wonderfully restored venue, good super-titles, a strong cast of singers, a good balance of of orchestra and singer volume, what more could you want? The opera is what it has been. The music was lovely, and the actor/singers as credible as the plot. It was an evening well spent! We have great admiration for Meagan Miller, the charming soprano.


M. Richmond – Walled Lake

Absolutely loved it.


Chris – Livonia

The voices were all fine and the scenery was very good. However, the music was not spectacular. I think the MOT did the best they could with ok but not great material.


Juliette Okotie-Eboh – Detroit

This is a fabulous opera. I was impressed with the power of the closing scenes when Minnie told the men how much she had done for them. Now it was their turn to support her happiness!


Tenormary – Rochester Hills

Very much enjoyed this production. It is an opera with which I am not familiar and appreciated an opportunity to experience it. Sets were a bit minimal – people kept moving beyond walls as if they were still in the salon or cabin. Orchestra was very good. Indeed, it is a tone poem. We go to the Sunday matinee, and the lead singers (all the singers) were very good. It would be nice if reviews featured them sometimes.
Strains of Madam Butterfly – at least orchestration. But I guess that is Puccini.


a – Redford

My Mother saw La Fanciulla del West in Italy as a young woman and she mentioned Minni and always said how wonderful it was. I was delighted when I learned that it was going to be performed in Detroit. I attended last Sunday’s matinee and was not disappointed.
It was great fun when David DiChiera and his “sidekick” greeted the audience before the performance with cowboy hats!
Puccini really cpatured the flavor of the West. The voices were superb, the sets were so “authentic” and even the “announcements” on the curtain reminded me of the old cowboy movies on screen.
KUDOS to all.


Bob M – Ann Arbor

It is a shame this opera is not performed more frequently. We have all been Boheme’d and Butterflied to death, but this opera has a lot to say for itself. It is true, there is only “Ch’ella mi creda” in the third act that is a “stand alone” aria, but the ensemble writing is wonderful, and Puccini’s use of Western-themed music is enjoyable. Mark Delavan and Melissa Citro gave performances that were both strong and nuanced. Jeff Gwaltney, although making a handsome and dramatically credible Johnson, seemed vocally overtaxed, and his third act aria was labored. I really have to give a shout-out to the ensemble, who provided nicely delineated, well-sung characters. I am grateful, as a native Detroiter, to have a company like the MOT.


Dave – Avoca



Ronald DiLiddo – Rochester Hills

I was disappointed in the story but not the music or the performers. The story was sooo slow. Those that performed as the ragazzi did a nice job as well.


Natalie – Ann Arbor

It exceeded out expectations. “Minnie” was wonderful.


charles K Lindquist – Livonia

A wonderful afternoon of entertainment.splendid job by the entire cast ,crew and orchestra. Thanks to all of you for all you do for us.


Kate and Rom – Birmingham

We absolutely loved it. David, David, you have brought us such joy from productions at Oakland, to Music Hall, to the Masonic Temp,e and your wonderful Opera House. Thank you so much for all your bring to our community.


sondra gunn – Ann Arbor

We absolutely loved it. David, David, you have brought us such joy from productions at Oakland, to Music Hall, to the Masonic Temp,e and your wonderful Opera House. Thank you so much for all your bring to our community.


John – Ann Arbor

Great story but music not up to Puccinis standard. Worth seeing if one has never seen this opera, otherwise not.


Andrea – Bloomfield Hills

My mother and I have been season ticket holders for a few years, and I must admit that this opera was a great disappointment to us. The story and plot line seemed forced, the characters lacked development, and the performers’ voices were subpar. This is the first time we have been so completely disappointed in a production.


Jack Cederquist – Ann Arbor

I saw the Sunday performance which was excellent. The two principles sang and acted well. The many supporting roles were sung well and provide a lot of interest and change as the opera proceeds. I had not seen this opera before so thank you to MOT for bringing it to Detroit.
Also, congratulations to Boychoir of Ann Arbor alumni, Jesus Murillo, for an excellent, if brief, appearance as Jose Castro. It is rewarding to see yet another Boychoir alum continue a career in music. Best wishes to Jesus for continued success!


David Potter – Ann Arbor

It was a wonderful production, and a timely one as it reflects the way that America was imagined by Puccini, inviting the audience to reflect on the way we appear to others. The singing was very strong, Melissa Citro, after what seemed like jitters in her opening, provided a wonderfully strong performance, as did Mark Delavan and Jeff Gwaltney. The orchestra was in terrific form, the balance between the pit and the stage was first rate. MOT should be extremely proud of this production. I also have great respect for the decision to go with an unusual work.


Thomas F Taylor – Ann Arbor

We enjoyed the good old Golden Girl thoroughly – great voices, fine orchestral and choral detail, excellent sets, staging and costumes – (maybe a bit too much brandishing of those six shooters!) Subtle and telling bringing out of the possibilities for humor in that 1910 plot, led by the projected silent movie titles,etc. The amazing 3rd act transformation of the angry mob by personal diplomacy was toned just right – straight and honest. Would only that happen more at the level of governments and politics!


Barbara Williams – Warren

Very unusual Puccini I’ve always wanted to see but probably never need to see again. I do appreciate MOT’s tackling it and loved the cowboy hats on Misters DiChiera and Brown as they introduced the show. I saw the Sunday matinee 2d cast and I didn’t think the leads and production quite gelled. I kept hearing strains of “Music of the Night” from Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” in Puccini’s score. Andy always borrows from the best. Amusing to see such a male-centric opera, and I got a real kick out of cowboys saying “Andiamo!”


Judith – Novi

We attended the Sunday matinee. My first experience with this opera and enjoyed it very much. The voices were terrific, Maestro Lord and orchestra outstanding. Congratulations to all. I hope other less frequent operas will be included in future seasons.


Sarah – Macomb

I was disappointed in this opera. The large orchestra drowned out portions of the singing. No memorable arias which any hit show (opera or Broadway) has. (There’s a reason you leave the opera house singing that aria. ) David diChiera mentioned the lawsuit the Puccini heirs had with Andrew Lloyd Webber before the start. What was he referring to? That became very evident later on, hearing parts of the famous Phantom piece in the orchestration. Even caused me to google this during intermission. I am a longtime operagoer; I was privileged to hear Luciano Pavarotti sing at the opera house’s opening. I don’t expect MOT to stage only the ” warhorses” of operas. But I’d rather hear a contemporary opera like Silent Night or the Passenger than a lesser work of a master.


Opera Lover – Troy

The performers are very genuine and made a very good job presenting the work, specially Minnie, she’s so into the role. We appreciate their job and applaud all of them. However, in what it concerns to the piece as an opera, I am afraid to say, it seemed more like a filler for the season.


Susan Hoshield – Oak Park

I had no idea what to expect as I have never attended an opera. I laughed more than I had in forever!
The music was wonderful. The singers were superb. My companion agrees with me!!! Thank you