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The Eiteljorg and The Indianapolis Opera Team Up Saturday March 8

by James Caraher, Indianapolis Opera artistic director and conductor | Mar 03, 2014

On Friday, March 21 and Sunday, March 23, the Indianapolis Opera will present Giacomo Puccini's The Girl of the Golden West at Butler University's Clowes Memorial Hall.  This Saturday, the  March 8, members of the Indianapolis Opera Ensemble will present a live performance. Then, a lively discussion on The Operatic West | Myths and Realities of the 19th Century West will take place, starring both Eiteljorg and Indianapolis Opera experts. The Eiteljorg performance and discussion is free with museum admission.

Indianapolis Opera artistic director and conductor James Caraher blogs about the upcoming opera and tells us why some of the music in it landed in a court of law.

Girl of the Golden West stage pictureEveryone loves Giacomo Puccini and everyone loves a good Western! A handsome outlaw in disguise, the sheriff in hot pursuit, and a garter-snapping, pistol-packing, poker-playing heroine who will do anything to save the man she loves. Giacomo Puccini was fascinated by the American West, and California during the Gold Rush was the perfect setting for one of his most memorable leading ladies. (Source: Indianapolisopera.org)

Girl of the Golden West
holds a very special place in the long list of operas that Puccini composed, coming right after Madame Butterfly. It is unlike any other, combining the intimacy and romance of La Boheme with the grandeur of Turandot, all set in the American West during the gold rush. First performed in 1910, it was the first "commissioned" opera by the Metropolitan Opera, and was also it's first world premier. The opening night performance of Dick Johnson, the tenor lead, was sung by non other than Enrico Caruso, and the conductor for the evening was Arturo Toscanini, with Puccini himself in the audience! Talk about a star-studded opening. While this is one of Puccini's lesser-known operas, audience members will be surprised to hear some snippets of music that sounds surprisingly familiar. During the Act 2 tenor aria "Quello che tacete," there are several measures which can also be heard almost note for note in "Music of the Night" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera! It could be an accidental similarity, but the Puccini folks decided to sue Mr. Lloyd Webber for plagurism. The outcome was an out of court settlement. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not it was an accident!

About Conductor James Caraher
Often referred to as “the singers’ conductor,” Caraher is a master at holding all the reins of the many forces of grand opera while seemingly able to clearly communicate his musical desires with each performer. Caraher frequently serves as guest conductor for other symphonies and opera companies and has lent his talents to Opera Company of Philadelphia, Kentucky Opera, Opera Memphis, Buffalo Opera and Nashville Opera. He devotes much of his time to the development of young singers by directing the Indianapolis Opera Ensemble, the Indianapolis Opera Young Artist Program. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and two children.

Indianapolis Opera at the Eiteljorg
The Operatic West | Myths and Realities of the 19th Century West - A collaboration with the Indianapolis Opera
Saturday, Mar. 8
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Eiteljorg vice president and chief curatorial officer James Nottage, the Indianapolis Opera’s artistic director and conductor James Caraher and guest stage director John Hoomes discuss "The Operatic West: Myths and Realities of the 19th Century West."  Members of the Indianapolis Opera Ensemble will present a live performance prior to the discussion. This event is free with paid museum admission. To learn more about the Indianapolis Opera and to purchase tickets for The Girl of the Golden West, visit www.indyopera.org.

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