Today, the San Francisco Opera presents the world première of Girls of the Golden West, an opera in two acts composed by John Adams, with a libretto by Peter Sellars, based on 'original sources'.
It is the composer's 8th opera after Nixon in China (Houston, October 22, 1987), The Death of Klinghoffer (Brussels, March 19, 1991) and Doctor Atomic (San Francisco, October 1, 2005).
The opera follows people from all over the world who flock to Gold Country hoping to strike it rich but are quickly caught up in the optimism, greed and prejudices of a rapidly changing world. Dame Shirley is an East Coast transplant chronicling life in the camp. Ah Sing, a Chinese immigrant, works as a prostitute but dreams of a better life. Ned Peters is a cowboy and former slave who never quite feels safe. And Josefa Segovia is a young Mexican barmaid whose act of self-preservation will change them all forever. (reproduced from the San Francisco Opera website)The cast includes soprano Julia Bullock (Dame Shirley), baritone Paul Appleby (Joe Cannon), baritone Ryan McKinny (Clarence King), bass-baritone Davone Tines (Ned Peters), mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges (Josefa Segovia), soprano Hye Jung Lee (Ah Sing), baritone Elliot Madore (Ramon) and dancer Lorena Feijoo (Lola Montez). Grant Gershon conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the San Francisco Opera. Peter Sellars directs.
The required orchestra is the following (reproduced from the Boosey & Hawkes website) :
- 3 flutes (doubling piccolo), 3 oboes (doubling cor Anglais), 3 clarinets (doubling Eb clarinet and bass clarinet), 3 bassons (doubling contrabassoon) ;
- 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba ;
- 2 percussionists, piano, accordion and guitar ;
- strings (18.104.22.168.5).
The performance should last about 3 hours including one intermission. The venue is the War Memorial Opera House. This new opera is a co-commission and co-production with the Dallas Opera and Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam.