‹ Back to What's On The Girl of the Golden West (La fanciulla del West)

21 Jan - 21 Mar 2014

New production

It’s the Gold Rush of 1849 and plucky, gun-toting, saloon owner Minnie plays surrogate mother to the rough crew of miners who frequent her bar, whilst batting back the affections of the local Sheriff. But when a mysterious stranger comes into her life, everything looks set to change... A tale of true love and second chances set in a world of gun fights, poker games and stagecoach robberies, La fanciulla del West combines the suspense and action of a great Western with the emotional punch of Italian opera.

Deemed by Puccini as one of his greatest works, Fanciulla was originally written for three of the most esteemed opera singers of all time including Emmy Destinn and Enrico Caruso. With Alwyn Mellor, whose breathtaking performance as Sieglinde in our Walküre enthused audiences and critics, Robert Hayward and Rafael Rojas taking on the lead roles, this blazing new production of the original Spaghetti Western is sure to strike gold.

Lasts approximately 2 hours 30 mins
Sung in Italian with English titles

This production is supported by the Friends of Opera North

Download our complete opera performance diary for 2013-14 here.

What the critics say

Collins is particularly successful in highlighting the personalities of the individual prospectors in the first Act and building a Tosca-like sense of erotic tension in the second.

The Telegraph - Full Review ›

Musically it's stunning. Richard Farnes cleverly manages to make one of Puccini’s boldest operas sound satisfyingly loud whilst never overwhelming the voices, and revels in the score’s cosmopolitan modernity.

The Arts Desk - Full Review ›

Richard Farnes’s superb conducting of this inspired score is one big reason to see Opera North’s new staging. He captures every quicksilver change of mood, and the Opera North orchestra sounds magnificently galvanised.

The Times - Full Review ›

Richard Farnes and the Opera North orchestra relish every morsel of the music, in which Puccini shamelessly assimilates modernist ideas (from Debussy and Ravel especially) and makes them indelibly his own; it all provides sumptuous support to the singers

The Guardian - Full Review ›

The central act, set in Minnie’s mountainside cabin, has the tautness of a high-class spaghetti western, and the finale maintains tension to the very end.

The Financial Times - Full Review ›

hair-raisingly effective, truly memorable.

Bachtrack - Full Review ›

it strikes its own variety of Puccini gold and deserves a rush to see it.

The Observer - Full Review ›



Richard Mantle looks forward to 2014


Opera North General Director, Richard Mantle, talks about the highlights coming up as the Company's focus shifts to the two greatest Italian composers of opera, with Verdi's Macbeth and Puccini's The Girl of the Golden West. Read More

  • Minnie Alwyn Mellor
  • Jack Rance Robert Hayward
  • Dick Johnson (Ramerrez) Rafael Rojas
  • Nick Bonaventura Bottone
  • Ashby Graeme Danby
  • Sonora Eddie Wade
  • Trin Adrian Dwyer
  • Jake Wallace Gavan Ring
  • José Castro Dean Robinson
  • Sid Jeremy Peaker
  • Handsome Peter Bodenham
  • Harry Paul Rendall
  • Joe Graham Russell
  • Happy Paul Gibson
  • Jim Larkens Nicholas Butterfield
  • Billy Jackrabbit Callum Thorpe
  • Wowkle Kathryn Walker
  • The Pony Express rider Nicholas Watts
Creative Team
  • Conductor Richard Farnes
  • Director Aletta Collins
  • Set Designer Giles Cadle
  • Costume Designer Gabrielle Dalton
  • Lighting Designer Andreas Fuchs
  • Video Designer Andrzej Goulding

Click on the venue below to plan your visit.

Leeds Grand Theatre

Find Us

46 New Briggate
Leeds Grand Theatre

Important Information

Box Office: 0844 848 2720 (calls cost 7ppm)

  • To access the Grand Theatre, there are six steps from the street up to the foyer or a wheelchair lift from the Grand Theatre Box Office to the foyer, and then lift access to the rest of the auditorium (excluding the Upper Balcony). Some areas of the auditorium do have steep stairs and may not be suitable for people with limited mobility. Please check with the Box Office. 
  • There are 6 wheelchair spaces: four in the Stalls and two in the Dress Circle.
  • There are accessible toilets at Stalls and Dress Circle levels. 
  • There is an infra-red system in operation for sound amplification. Headsets are available from the Grand Theatre foyer for a £5 refundable deposit. Please ask Box Office staff when booking for advice on the best seats to use this service. 
  • Support dogs are welcome in the auditorium and can be looked after on request. 
  • For refreshments, there are bars at Stalls, Upper Circle and Balcony levels.  

Choose from these fantastic pre-theatre dining options and make your experience complete!

The Alchemist

Opera North ticket holders can enjoy 20% off their food bill at The Alchemist. Located on the second floor of Trinity Shopping Centre, The Alchemist offers a fantastic menu and stunning views of Leeds City Centre. Not available Saturdays. 

Download Menu | Book online 


Manahatta is a recently opened bar and kitchen located on Merrion Street, just a minute's walk from Leeds Grand Theatre. Serving a fantastic New York inspired menu made with fresh local produce, guests will receive 20% off their food bill before 6.15pm with proof of ticket. Booking is required. 

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North Bar

Opera North and Howard Assembly Room ticket holders can enjoy 10% off all drinks at New Briggate's finest craft beer hotspot — North Bar, just a stone's throw from Leeds Grand Theatre. 

Find out more 


Enjoy 15% off all food and drink at authentic Italian wine bar Veeno (Leeds branch only) on presentation of ticket for an Opera North performance. Excludes Fridays and Saturdays after 5.00pm. 

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Veritas Ale & Wine Bar

Enjoy a special pre-opera meal at Veritas Ale & Wine Bar. Just a 5-10 minute walk from Leeds Grand Theatre, choose either two courses for £13.95 (£17.50 with a 175ml house wine) or three courses for £15.95 (£19.50 with a 175ml house wine). Available 5.00-6.30pm. Booking is required.

Download Menu | Book via email or call 0113 242 8094 and quote 'pre-opera menu'

Brasserie Blanc

Sample the fabulous pre-theatre menu at Brasserie Blanc and choose from two courses for £11.95 or three courses for £15.45, with a complimentary glass of fizz for Opera North ticket holders. Located just a 10 minute walk from the Leeds Grand Theatre. Available 12.00-6.30pm, Monday-Saturday. 

Download Menu | Book online or call 0113 220 6060

The Reliance

Just a 5 minute walk from Leeds Grand Theatre, The Reliance bar and dining room offers a fantastic pre-theatre menu. Choose from two courses for £14.45 or three courses for £18.90. Available 5.30-6.30pm, Monday-Saturday.

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Salford Quays

Find Us

Pier 8
Salford Quays
M50 3AZ

Important Information

Box office: 0843 208 6000 

There is a passenger drop-off point immediately in front of The Lowry. Secure parking is available in The Lowry Outlet Mall multi-storey car park. There are designated areas for disabled parking on every level. 

The Lowry is accessible by train, tram and bus. http://www.tfgm.com/

From national railway stations, Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria you can travel to The Lowry by Metrolink tram. You can board an Eccles line tram and should alight at Harbour City, or Media City UK for trams which stop there, as this is slightly closer.

More info: http://www.thelowry.com/plan-your-visit/getting-here/


Find Us

100 Grey Street

Important Information

Box office: 08448 112121


Free Parking in all City Council multi-storey carparks after 5pm.

The two closest car parks to Theatre Royal are the Oxford Street multi-storey (just behind the Laing) and the Dean Street multi-storey. Click here for more info.

There are two parking spaces for blue badge holders on Shakespeare Street and three on Hood Street. Most parking meters are free to Blue Badge Holders.


Alight at Monument Metro Station and follow the signs for the Theatre Royal. We are less than one minutes walk from the Metro entrance on Grey Street.

Travel free on the Metro with your theatre ticket (up to two hours before and after the performance) - simply retain your theatre ticket for inspection by Metro Staff.


The Theatre Royal is only ten minutes walk from Newcastle Central Station.


Find Us

Theatre Square

Important Information

Box Office: 0115 989 5555

Find access details for Nottingham Theatre Royal

By Car

Follow signs for the city centre and the 'Royal Zone'. Nearest car parks are Talbot Street car park and Crowne Plaza Hotel car park on Wollaton Street.
For maps and information about on-street parking, off-street car parks, park and ride and the blue badge scheme please visit Parking In Nottingham

By Bus

For bus times call Nottingham City Transport on 0115 950 6070, Traveline on 0871 200 2233 or visit www.travelineeastmidlands.co.uk   Find out about our £1 return bus ticket here.

By Tram

 The 'Royal Centre' tram stop is directly outside the venue and runs every 10 minutes until midnight. There are five Park and Ride sites along the route. Visit www.thetram.net or call 0115 942 7777 for full details of the tram route. Find out about our £1 return tram ticket here.

By Rail

Nottingham Station is a 15 minute walk or a short taxi or tram ride from the venue. Call 0845 748 4950 or www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times and fares. 


Discover exciting pre-theatre dining options for Nottingham Theatre Royal

What you say




La Fanciulla del West at the Lowry 5th March, - Nothing to write home about. Fantastic opera as usual ruined by Opera North. The production was, Thank God, traditional but very poorly directed within these confines. The director failed to bring out the many solo characters from the male choruses in Acts One and Three and a lot of the gun toting was pure pantomime. The sets were "cardboardy" , unnecessarily angled and unimaginatively dressed. Where was the the ceiling part to the saloon set and the drinks behind the bar? The cabin set looked as though it was built of plywood rather than timber. And where was the blood dripping from the cabin ceiling as requested in the libretto? The two singers moving off into the distance at the end was also botched. Apart from the excellent contributions from the conductor and the orchestra I found the principals disappointing. Alwyn Mellor seemed uncomfortable as Minnie and her top notes, though spot on, seemed disconnected from the rest of her voice.And why do Opera North keep bringing back the tenor Raphael Rojas? He is so dull and lacks "Oomph" for the part. I thought Robert Hayward was the best of the leading singers. The part of the theatre where i was sitting was only a third full and at least 6 people walked out at the interval. Seat prices too high?, -but that's another story.

Comment from Luisa


Luisa said ago

Just seen la fancuilla at the lowry salford. Absolutely mesmerising performance from all the cast. Splendid. Loved puccini's soaring notes so heartwrenching and perfectly performed with passion and gusto by Alwyn mellor, exquisite. And what a story, I adore Puccini even more now thanks to opera north. What a tale of enduring love and how masterfully played out in those scenes, the character of Minnie is so powerful and a real tribute to women.

Comment from David G


David G said ago

A very enjoyable production that really brought the old West back to life.
I particularly liked the opening of Act 1 and the final scenes of Acts 2 and 3.
The chorus and minor parts were well sung and acted. Robert Hayward and Rafael Rojas were excellent and as for Alwyn Mellor......what a voice!

Comment from dermot stewart


dermot stewart said ago

Glad to have the chance to see this. Authentic feel of a mining camp saloon, and a cowboy melodrama. Well-drawn characters and lively music, but I yearned for a Big Puccini tune.

Comment from James Gilmour


James Gilmour said ago

The music and the production were far less flimsy than the plot! This was a splendid night's entertainment; Robert Hayward's Jack Rance excelled. But the design, the orchestra and the performances of Rafael Rojas and Alwyn Mellor complemented the whole. Hayward's jealous, cowardly sheriff even earned him some good natured "boos" at the curtain calls...Like a panto villain. Good work, ON !

Comment from Graham Roberts


Graham Roberts said ago

An excellent production of a little known Puccini opera. The second and third acts were particularly good and the music and singing were superb throughout. The only negative comment is regarding the venue which was uncomfortably hot.

Comment from rosalie hooper


rosalie hooper said ago

We went not having even heard of the opera and thoroughly enjoyed it. We found the first act a bit slow but loved the other two acts - particularly the Sheriff and Mimi where the acting, singing and tension was superb. the orchestra excelled and so did the production.

Comment from James Dalton


James Dalton said ago

We have seen all but one of O N's productions this season and enjoyed them enormously. La Fanciulla has the same imaginative coherence and concentration on music, characterisation and ensemble commitment as the others. Even something as difficult to direct as Death in Venice, where the focus is almost exclusively on one person, had this vision. Fanciulla let Puccini speak through profound theatre and wonderful singing. We have seen many operas abroad and at ROH. We think the standards and achievements of O N and Northern Ballet are often higher/better than these. Julia and Jim Dalton

Comment from Helen


Helen said ago

The first Act felt a little slow and the music not so interesting, but the next two acts were marvellous - real dramatic tension and pace. The chorus and the minor parts sang really well (and acted very convincingly), and the principals were fantastic. I'm really looking forward to hearing Alwyn Mellor as Brunnhilde.

Comment from gonnagothere


gonnagothere said ago

I was intrigued to see this opera, which was unfamiliar to me. I cannot fault the production, orchestra, and performances, all of which were excellent. For me, the most enjoyable moments were when the chorus was involved, especially in Act 1 and Act 3. Perhaps this opera is lesser known because it does not have many big ensemble pieces or duets, which are what I find most stirring about opera. While I enjoyed this production I probably will not book to see it again, unlike La Boheme, La Traviata, Carmen, or Madame Butterfly, which I never want to miss.

Comment from Carole and Stefan


Carole and Stefan said ago

Regarding La Fancuilla - As ever Opera North did a fine production. The soloists were wonderful as were the Chorus and Orchestra. I have to say though that this particular opera by Puccini is not our favourite.

Comment from Edward


Edward said ago

Very enjoyable. The first Act was a bit slow but the pace, both musically and dramatically then increased to a powerful conclusion. Excellent soloists and a wonderful display by the chorus. It was sometimes difficult to distinguish the two, which is both a criticism and high praise.

Comment from Sue and John


Sue and John said ago

A thoroughly enjoyable evening from the curtain going up until the end. The principals were well-cast and Robert Hayward was especially impressive.Comments about the cabin and the size of Minnie were trivial and unnecessary. How could anyone not enjoy the fine singing and the outstanding contribution of the orchestra in such a wonderful production?

Comment from Catherine Gibson


Catherine Gibson said ago

Musically superb. I loved the staging and the treatment of the chorus. The rather matronly Minnie didn't quite work for me, dramatically.

Comment from Andrew Wright


Andrew Wright said ago

A brilliant production with excellent detail and imagination. Superb orchestral playing esp. brass and oboe. Fantastic singing and acting- it was a great evening.

Comment from Victoria G


Victoria G said ago

This was a completely gripping and exciting performance - well-acted and well-sung. The orchestra was, as usual, superb and, as I was in one of the boxes, I was able to watch the conductor as well which was fascinating. I thought the set and direction were both very good, enhancing the music and not fighting it. I was with someone who has very little experience of opera: he didn't twitch once which,I think, shows how good it was!
The score was so lush. Music to wallow in.

Comment from Peter and Ruth


Peter and Ruth said ago

La Fanciulla was absolutely wonderful!!! Our first date was on 13th January 1978 when we saw the Covent Garden production. Opera North did us proud, and to the highest possible standard. The sets were superb, the atmosphere, the very clear subtitles, the message of good triumphing over evil, the excellent quality of all the singing (soloists and chorus) and the wonderful Opera North orchestra! Very well done indeed, and thank you for giving us such an emotionally moving evening!

Comment from bobby321


bobby321 said ago


Comment from Peter


Peter said ago

La Fanchula on Opening Night:

An excellent production, extremely well cast with first rate musical interpretation.

We last saw this Opera at Covent Garden and Opera North's was far superior.

Every member of the chorus had a unique character and they plaid it brilliantly


Comment from Philip Booth


Philip Booth said ago

Tremendous score , beautifully played, sung well in most part , Libretto is ridiculous , Its time to move the subtitles on a screen below the pelmet as it is at Covent Garden and at the Colly, in the boxes is a bit provincial , I thought the days of static Opera Singers had gone, direction was poor and restricted by a M D F false pros didn't help, the Cabin truck was far too small poor Minnie and Jack struggled a bit in the space they had,I was there on the first night it seemed to be full of Opera North luvies who were very kind, I noticed a well known critic and radio presenter shot off before the Rag came down, overall did what they could with the subject matter it should be dropped or brought out as a concert version. o k it did well in New York when it opened but it would in America

Comment from toffeetim


toffeetim said ago

A fine production with powerfully sung main roles and stylish set.The log cabin will always tend to be ludicrously small for the required action but overall the musicality was top drawer. You will also notice a few lines from Phantom in there - how prescient of Andrew L-W to use them so well.

Comment from David Robertson


David Robertson said ago

A fine production full of power and conviction.

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