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Deborah Voigt is the Girl of the Golden West

Hot off her lauded role debut in San Francisco as Puccini’s quintessential New World heroine, soprano Deborah Voigt will once again portray the pistol-packing, poker-playing barmaid Minnie, this time in the Metropolitan Opera’s centenary staging of La fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West).  The nine performances (Dec 6 – Jan 8) mark Voigt’s company debut as Minnie.  The San Francisco Chronicle enthused over the soprano’s performance in San Francisco Opera’s production of the Gold Rush extravaganza this summer: “Voigt, singing Minnie for the first time, brought theatrical vibrancy and considerable personal charm to the role – it was no stretch to imagine an entire troop of miners eating out of her hand.”

Puccini described the original play of The Girl of the Golden West as “a drama of love against a dark and vast background of primitive characters and untrammeled nature.”  He was inspired to write by the story and its American heroine – an archetypal street-savvy girl with a heart of gold, she was one of his favorite female characters and he found her “very refreshing.”  Puccini’s Minnie is involved in a love triangle with a bandit, Dick Johnson, and a sheriff, Jack Rance. 

Voigt says Minnie is one of the most exciting characters she has played to date:

“I’m finding so much of myself in her – of who I am as well as what kind of person I try to be.  Maybe I’m giving myself more of a pat on the shoulder than I should, but she’s really a good girl!  She’s got a good heart.  She is the kind of woman who can work with men, shoot a gun, ride a horse, stoke a fire and run a bar.  All the while, she gets hit on by plenty of guys, but she keeps them at a distance because she really knows what she wants in her romantic life.  Of course, when she finally meets the supposed right man, it turns out that he has bad intentions.  But through her love and example she’s able to reform him.  Imagine that – a Puccini opera with a happy ending.  There aren’t too many of those!”

The Met run of La fanciulla del West opens 100 years to the week after the house premiered Puccini’s opera with Arturo Toscanini on the podium on December 10, 1910.  This run marks the first time La fanciulla will have been performed at the Met since 1993, and will see the opera exceed 100 house performances since its debut.  Voigt will perform alongside Marcello Giordani as Dick Johnson and Lucio Gallo as Jack Rance, conducted by Nicola Luisotti, the San Francisco Opera music director who led Voigt’s debut performances in the role.  The nine performances at the Met will include a broadcast in the Met: Live in HD series, on Jan 8.

Voigt will also be featured in a sold-out edition of the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s series “The Singer’s Studio: Candid and Casual Conversation,” on December 8.  The event, hosted by Opera News editor-in-chief F. Paul Driscoll, will be held from 6pm to 7:15pm in the Guild’s Opera Learning Center, on the sixth floor of Lincoln Center’s Rose Building.

Golden Girl in Chicago:

Voigt will continue her centennial year run as Puccini’s Minnie at Lyric Opera of Chicago (Jan 22 – Feb 21).  This revival of Harold Prince’s Fanciulla production, which was initially described as “good as gold” by the Chicago Sun-Times, will reunite the soprano with tenor Marcello Giordani as Dick Johnson.  Marco Vratogna will play the role of Jack Rance, and Sir Andrew Davis will conduct. 

In another glowing review of Voigt’s San Francisco debut performances as Minnie, the Associated Press wrote: “Both vocally and dramatically, the role is almost ideally suited to Voigt’s strengths – large, gleaming high notes and a stage presence that radiates an endearing charm, whether she’s teaching Bible class to the miners, cheating in a poker game against Sheriff Jack Rance, or riding in on a white horse to save her man.”


Deborah Voigt as the Girl of the Golden West:
December 6, 10, 14, 18, 22, 27, & 30; January 3 & 8
New York, NY
Puccini: La fanciulla del West (Minnie – house role debut)
Metropolitan Opera / Nicola Luisotti
January 22, 26, & 29; February 4, 9, 12, 15, 18, & 21
Chicago, IL
Puccini: La fanciulla del West (Minnie – house role debut)
Lyric Opera of Chicago / Andrew Davis

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© 21C Media Group, November 2010

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