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(Puccini: La fanciulla del West). Sop. The (golden) girl of the West, she is the owner of ‘The Polka’, a pub in which the gold-miners gamble and drink. They all respect Minnie, who reads to them and tells them stories from the Bible. She is loved by the sheriff, Jack Rance, who wants to marry her, but she does not return his feelings—she can remember as a child, the love between her parents, and that is the sort of love she wants for herself. A stranger, Dick Johnson, calls at the inn and he and Minnie talk animatedly. Rance suspects this may be the bandit, Ramerrez, but Minnie vouches for him and invites Johnson to her cabin for a meal that evening. In her cabin, she is looked after by her maid, Wowkle, who prepares the meal for them. She tells Johnson how happy she is living here among the miners. The sheriff calls at the cabin to warn Minnie that the bandit is in the area. She hides Johnson behind the curtains. Rance shows her a photograph of the bandit, and she recognizes it as Johnson. After Rance has left, she turns on him, angry and upset at his deception. He declares his love for her and his intention of leading an honest life in the future, but she insists he leave. No sooner has she closed the door behind him than a shot rings out. The wounded Johnson falls against her door and Minnie drags him in and hides him in her loft. Again Rance arrives and looks round suspiciously. Finding nothing, he is about to leave when blood drips from the loft above, revealing the bandit's whereabouts. Minnie suggests a game of poker. If she wins, Johnson can go free; if she loses, Rance wins her for himself. By cheating, she wins and Rance departs. But he breaks his side of the bargain, telling his men where to find Johnson. They capture him and are about to hang him when Minnie turns on them—do they not owe her anything for the time and love she has given them? Now she is asking them for something—will they not agree to Johnson's freedom? She tells them that Johnson and she will lead an honest life together. The miners accede to her wishes and she and Johnson leave to seek a new life. Arias: Laggiù nel Soledad, ero piccina (‘Back in Soledad, when I was little’); Oh, se sapeste (‘Oh, if only you knew’); duet (with Rance): Una partita a poker! (‘A game of poker!’). Created (1910) by Emmy Destinn.

Subjects: Opera.

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