Maryland Lyric Opera presented a powerful concert performance of Puccini’s seldom-heard “La Fanciulla del West,” or “The Girl of the Golden West,” Friday night at Strathmore.
There are plenty of reasons “Fanciulla” is a rarity. Its setting, in a rough-and-tumble mining camp during the 1849 California Gold Rush, where everybody sings Italian, is already a stretch. Minnie, the heroine, runs a saloon and gambling house and thinks nothing of pulling out a rifle and shooting a hole in the roof to get people’s attention. She’s also a virgin and a bit of a prude, but all the men in the camp are pantingly in love with her, especially the ruthless sheriff, Jack Rance. Enter a dandy from Sacramento, Dick Johnson, who is actually the evil bandit Ramerrez in disguise. He steals Minnie’s heart and, well, you can take it from there.