The ‘Colors’ of La Fanciulla

The twentieth-century
phase (from La Fanciulla del West to Turandot) is tidily
compartmentalized from the fin de siËcle phase (from Manon
to Madama Butterfly). In the former, a manifestation of
a distinct sensibility for the crisis in the operatic form of the period and
(without a refutation of a dramatic style grounded in realism) the adoption
of a series of innovative strategies in the realm of diversification of
subjects, refinement of musical means, exploration of staging resources, in a
word toward the reorientation of dramatic perspectives as a whole, can be

Beyond the convergence of orchestral language and musicality with a few of
the primary exponents of European musical modernism such as Debussy, Strauss
and Stravinsky, certainly meaningful and conscious reverberations in an ever
forward-looking musician, one of the most evident hallmarks of
Puccini’s twentieth-century period is the retrospective itinerary which
his dramatic style follows. The high point of Puccini’s modernity is
thus attributed to works such as Il Trittico and Turandot.
In the three parts of Il Trittico a manneristic compendium of
outdated genres and dramatic styles is realized: from the Grand Guignol
realism of Il Tabarro (a revisiting of veristic subjects in his
1890s style), to the sentimental opera centered on the heroine’s tragic
fate in Suor Angelica (a perfect example of Puccinian’s
fin de siËcle mode, colored by archaic musical pieces grounded by
the liturgical context of the story), to the recuperation of the comic genre
in Gianni Schicchi (which, differing from the contemporary
reconstructions of eighteenth-century buffo, brings a
non-restorative comic style, based on contemporary language and staging). In
Turandot a binary option for the revival of the operatic genre is
offered: on one hand, through the reformulation of the fairy tale under a
mythical heading; on the other, through the meticulous reconstruction of the
forms of nineteenth-century melodrama (commonly referred to as the
“solite forme” of operatic works).

Another option of modernist dramaturgical rethinking is at play in
Puccini’s twentieth-century works: that of stylistic fragmentation, of
breaking down compositions into heterogeneous linguistic blocks, in keeping
with the standardized categorization of vocal types and of the dramatis
. Again Turandot is the culmination of this trend. A
musical articulation in blocks bases itself on an array of character types
and situations (the tragic, solitary Turandot and the sympathetic slave Li˘;
the heroism of Prince Calaf which launches his dual challenge to the
enigmatic and stunning princess, and the sentimental side of a Calaf who is
interested in the fate of the little slave girl; the grotesque masks [Ping,
Pang and Pong]). At some moments these blocks are carved out of the free use
of dissonant intervals and harmonic units (Turandot’s imperious and
cruel sphere), at others from the exotic material of pentatonic scales and
authentic Chinese melodies (the marionette-like irony of the masks, but also
the human side and intimate innocence of Turandot). Still others come from
the sentimental and poignant melodies of Puccini’s normal style
(generally the parts of Calaf and the slave Li˘). The humanization of
Turandot, her metamorphosis from purveyor of death to a being capable of
love, is therefore put together through a series of frontal juxtapositions in
which the princess collides with registers and stylistic levels expressed by
the other characters (Turandot’s cruelty and Li˘’s sacrifice, the
Prince of Persia’s failure and the unknown prince’s success, the
icy body of the death-princess and the “burning hands” with which
Calaf crushes her in his ardent embrace). This metamorphosis corresponds more
to the opera’s complex dramatic and visual program than in the
character’s internal motivations. The opera beats out the chronological
proceeding of the story, from sunset to sunrise, from the cold spite of the
moon’s silvery reflections to the warmth of the sun’s golden
rays. [1]

From both of these points of view, the problem of La Fanciulla del
remains an open one: according to a widespread tradition of
interpretation, it is a “difficult” opera, one of transition, in
part unresolved on the level of dramatic/musical coherence, a work of crisis,
not yet one of reformation, a recognition of a new path but of a path not yet
taken with confidence. Even pioneer supporters of the modernity and novelty
of Puccianian dramaturgy such as Fedele d’Amico, (who never tired of
repeating that Puccini has always been modern, be it when the
“naturalist”in the common, petit-bourgeois sense of the word,
prevails in him, or when the “twentieth-century, aestheticizing”
musician dominates, that is when he “is capable, in his own way, of
that decadent distancing from his own material” which forms the
dividing line between nineteenth- and twentieth-century music) succumb to
doubts and display substantial reservations when faced with
Fanciulla: the Puccinian western is thus the opera in which music
comes to be reduced to an “abstract theatrical gesture,” to the
“incoherent marginal notes , which reigns over one stylistic element
alone, rigorously abstracted from the others: the orchestral color.” [2]

Following the maestro’s remarks on the opera one gets the impression
that Fanciulla del West was a turning point, which anticipates and
leads to the masterpieces of Il Trittico and Turandot. The
choice of the drama’s subject, David Belasco’s [1905] The
Girl of the Golden West
, difficulties encountered with the new pair of
librettists (Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zargarini) which led to the
composer’s assumption of almost the entire creative workload, as well
as the opera’s long gestation period (longer than any other of
Puccini’s works) which drew on until the New York premiËre of 10
December 1910, all crown a period marked by a veritable anxiety over change
(the “mania of pushing on…with a modernly constructed and
intended work” Puccini disclosed in a letter in February 1905, right
after Madama Butterfly) and dramatic restructuring:

Sometimes I think about something like La BohËme, the tragic and
sentimental mixed with the comic (and I believe that this genre could stand
to be reformed, certainly with different customs and practices, and thus it
will require new settings, less sweet sentimentality (that is in a smaller
quantity) and more “dÈchirant” drama. [3]

There we have it! The Girl promises to be a second BohËme, but
stronger, bolder, fuller. [4]

It is precisely by means of Puccini’s twentieth-century perspective,
which aims at a systemized linguistic flexibility and the composition of
opera as a moment of retrospection and reformulation of languages, styles and
forms, that in this essay I intend to propose a reinterpretation of the
essential elements of Fanciulla del West , and in particular of
those which express the “primary colors” of the story and its

1. The miners’ “sister”

The aspect of vocal types is one evident feature that distinguishes
Fanciulla from previous Puccini operas. The usage of only one female
voice, the soprano Minnie — the Indian-girl Wowkle, mezzo-soprano, has
an entirely marginal role — counterpoised against the dense group of
voices of the male characters who populate the miners’ camp (at the
foot of the Cloudy Mountains in the Californian Sierra at the time of the
Gold Rush) establishes a hitherto unheard of vocal dynamic, which poses
entirely new problems of musical equilibrium to the composer. Such problems
can be seen in two areas: firstly, from the point of view of individual
differentiation, as is the case with the sheriff Jack Rance and the miner
Sonora, both baritones but with opposite qualities, the former treacherous
and scornful, the latter noble in spirit (a strategy that in hindsight
prefigures one of the key elements of the drama of Suor Angelica).
Secondly, problems arise from the point of view of the group treatment of the
legion of basses, baritones and supporting tenors. Puccini’s solution
here creates the peculiar vocal color of Fanciulla. Gianni
will be the most direct development upon it.

Overall, this kind of collective yet internally differentiated male
character, composed of a mix of gold diggers, adventurers and outlaws, is the
expression of a primitive society without rules, a world of crude men. As the
stereotype would have it the men are drunk, cheating, trigger-happy,
indifferent toward life and uncaring about death (“Evvia! Che Ë poi la
morte / un calcio dentro al buio e buona notte” according to Sheriff
Rance’s cynical philosophy). It is deep within this society that Minnie
– the woman with a pistol, vigorous, and, if necessary, brutal
administrator of the “Polka” saloon, by collective trust and
common maternal identification the guardian of the camp’s fortunes
– expresses the “energetic,” “savage,”
“wiry” side of her personality. The musical color that connotes
this sphere of action and this aspect of the protagonist is rough and
vigorous, its fundamental qualities are its cutting rhythm, its asymmetrical
phrasing, a dissonant and thorny harmonic language (unrelated harmonies of
sevenths, ninths, elevenths, augmented chords, whole tone scales), a moment
of vocal heroism for Minnie. To illustrate that this color is a permanent and
unchangeable feature of this particular society, there is a series of
episodes distributed in the arc of the entire opera: in Act I, the episode of
the attempted hanging of the cheater Sid (“Al laccio il ladro!”)
and the squabble between Rance and Sonora, interrupted by Minnie’s
forceful reprimand (“Mistrees Rance, fra poco”); in Act II, the
scene in which Rance and his men burst into Minnie’s hut
(“Chiamano…chi sar‡”); in Act III, the episodes of the
manhunt (in the score two measures after rehearsal number 5), of
Johnson’s capture (“A morte!”) and of his subsequent rescue
by Minnie (from rehearsal number 29 on).

2. The “povera fanciulla oscura, e buona a nulla” and the

A distinct color shows the other side of Minnie’s personality: a
girl who is “sweet,” “civilized,” (the little
schoolteacher of the camp with “only thirty dollars of education”
and a taste for romantic novels), “proudly virginal,” and
“strong of spirit.” She is also deeply unsure of herself, such
that she paints herself as “dim, and good for nothing.” She is a
girl who paradoxically has not yet danced her first dance, nor given her
first kiss in search of love. In contrast to the connotation of the
“savage” Minnie, her sweet and virginal side are delineated by
means of diatonic music, tonally defined or guided towards pentatonic
solution, with symmetry in phrasing and a simple and smooth vocal line . In
this mode the protagonist expresses her own kindly attitude toward the miners
(one need only think of the episode of the catechism on Psalm LI) * and her nostalgic and dreamy declaration of regrets and
more intimate desires (e.g. “S’amavan tanto” in the duet
with Rance). But, above all, this dramatic-musical color plays a conspicuous
role in the lady’s sentimental attitude toward Dick Johnson, the chance
visitor to the Polka whom she met once before and never again forgot, with
whom she retires to the intimate setting of her mountain hut and shares her
first dance and first kiss, and who reveals himself to be none other than the
terrible outlaw Ramerrez, desperately wanted by the men of the camp. This
color is aptly prevalent in the duets between Minnie and Johnson: at the
conclusion of Act I, in the moment of their tender feelings (from rehearsal
number 114); in the Act II duet’s episodes of courtship (“Del
biscotto alla crema?”) and of the ecstasy in their pleasure
(“Minnie…Che dolce nome!”). On the whole, the dialectic
expressed through the two colors in Minnie’s personality (in their
opposing auditory poles of attraction) neatly encapsulates the substance of
the opera, a “drama of love and moral redemption,” evincing the
dramatic motif that Puccini desperately wants to draw out of Belasco’s

…in the adaptation of such violent source material I brought the
inspiration of a vibrant and refined idealism , toward the end of
encircling those catastrophic human events in a dreamlike atmosphere. In
Belasco’s drama, for example…little emphasis was placed on the
redeeming quality of the protagonist: it was I who had the librettists
develop this to a greater extent, and thus this desire for purification,
this pained cry for peace gained through love and hard work, became more
clear and truthful. [5]

Without delay, Puccini attracts attention to this dramatic nucleus
starting from the theme of the symphonic introduction, played before the
curtain opens on the saloon. The theme of the introduction indeed presents a
two-pronged makeup, dissonant and choppy in Minnie’s
“savage” color in the first part, diatonic and in her sweet and
spiritual color in the segment which follows. In fact, the interplay between
love and redemption presented an opportunity new to Puccinian dramaturgy,
which had hitherto conceived of love only in tragic terms, as an error to be
remedied by death. Conversely, in Fanciulla, the social and moral
rehabilitation of Johnson/Ramerrez is a sort of function of the sentiment of
love, or a direct consequence thereof. Indeed this is achieved neither by
means of an interior maturation of the characters nor by a development in
their psychologies. Minnie stays concurrently savage and sweet throughout.
This manifests itself primarily in her extreme gestures of bandit savagery:
she is deceitful in the poker game with Rance and masculine and willful when
she bursts onto the scene of Johnson’s would-be execution; however, she
is also maternal and imploring when she attempts to win the miners over.
Johnson is a two-dimensional character: a kind outlaw and a generous man from
the beginning to the end. Redemption, therefore, results from nothing but a
choice between two equally possible options (human affection instead of
worldly possessions, loving Minnie instead of stealing gold), which the
little schoolteacher’s exegesis of Psalm LI prefigures as the actuation
of a destiny inscribed forever in the history of every man:

That means, boys, that there exists,
No sinner in the world
To whom a path to redemption is not revealed…
May each of you learn within yourself
To enclose this supreme truth of love

3. The ‘far-off’ West and the Waltz

To make this perspective evident, to dramatically realize it in music,
stand two examples from Act I that blend into the action as simple stage
music : the song of the balladeer Jack Wallace, “Che faranno i vecchi
miei,” and the music of the waltz danced by Minnie and Dick Johnson at
the Polka. These two pieces, which belong to the sphere of Minnie’s
sweet and contemplative side, little by little come to signify the conceptual
totality of dreams, nostalgia (the theme of homesickness, the desire to
return to the home and family affections) and redemption through the passion
of love. The song the minstrel entertains the miners with in Minnie’s
saloon, which elicits a collective sentiment of despair and aggravates
Larkens’ nervous state, is the first moment of real cantabile
and the first long piece in the opera with tonal stability. Here Puccini
combines a paraphrasing of the general tone and particular imagery found in
the lyrics of a song from the repertoire of Californian balladeer music,
known as Old Dog Tray (utilized in the intermezzo of the
performance of Belasco’s Girl which Puccini attended at the
beginning of 1907), with the melody of an original Zuni Indian chant
(published with the title “The Festive Sun Dance of the Zuni” in
1904, arranged by the German-American composer Carlos Troyer). [6] This piece, which represents the primary locus of
exotic color in the entire opera, is however tempered in part by a series of
transformations in its melodic contour and by its operatic instrumentation,
both of which diminish the piece’s most markedly “Indian”
effects, in so doing emphasizing instead the symmetry and cadential
regularity of the phrasing and thus conferring an “American”
character, giving the piece a sort of melancholy cowboy air.

The dramatic impact of this piece is highlighted by the recurrence of its
verbal theme (the persistent reiterations in the libretto of motives of
homesickness and leaving for home), its musical theme (which comments upon
Minnie’s biblical exegesis), and of both the verbal and musical theme
(the baritone’s off-stage voice as the curtain rises and in the
heartrending farewell epilogue). All this means that Sehnsucht
[yearning or longing] for this other place, this remoteness found from top to
bottom in Fanciulla, adds tension to both the change of place and
living conditions we witness. This tension reaches a climax at the end by
means of Johnson’s departure for a trip without return, signifying his

The waltz eases this process of metamorphosis. It is the second moment of
real cantabile and the second long piece in the opera with tonal
stability. Its melody, hummed by the miners in a musically crude fashion
(without words and with a thin rhythmic accompaniment), at first a carefree
little picture of the settings, slowly turns into a Puccinian clichÈ, that of
a seduction dance, following the model of Musetta’s waltz in La
. Once internalized by Minnie and Johnson, the dancing melody in
fact becomes the primary color of their private sphere and, therefore, recurs
as a principal component of the lyrical pieces that involve the two. These
pieces start with and consistently return to the waltz, almost as if to
suspend the situation (and associated sensations) until the moment in which
it ends in the tumultuous embrace of the Act II duet.

4. “Parlante” vocal strategies

The repeated use of the waltz melody in the sung parts of the
protagonists’ duets should also be read as a manifestation of melodic
economy, in keeping with an aim of Puccini’s era to reject the appeal
of fluent and versatile singability. Indeed one of the fundamental choices in
composing found in Fanciulla del West is the interaction between
singing broken down into small bits of declamation , with a melodic poorness
so often exhibited that it constitutes a pattern, and the richness of the
orchestral arrangement, which conversely is brought to life by its motifs, in
the originality of its timbre, in the fullness of its harmonic writing. These
are among the most evident symptoms of Puccini’s breaking away from the
operatic dramaturgy of the nineteenth century and the extent to which he was
moving toward a certain type of melodrama that at the time, in Italy, found
its most solid support in the best productions of d’Annunzian decadent
style of (for example, in the austere declamatory style of Ildebrando
Pizzetti’s Phaedra).

In Fanciulla the orchestra takes on both a lyric and dramatic
function, the latter parallel to the singer’s verbalism, beyond
assuming the primary staging/narrative functions in the plot often
articulated by dialogues (the whole act at the Polka) and those of scenic
division in the crowd sequences (a brilliant example is the chase episode in
Act III, which alternates between crowd sequences and “close-ups”
dictated by thematic development in the orchestra). The vocal lines instead
defy standard Italian song style; they remain in declamato for long
periods according to a great number of suggestions, from “almost
spoken” to “spoken low,” “spoken gracefully,”
“spoken loudly,” and in many instances are reduced to true
recitation with no musical intonation given.

In the economy of the opera as a whole, these declamatory moments function
as a means by which to contain Puccini’s more typical style, which in
pieces conventionally given over to lyric outbursts (e.g. the three duets:
between Minnie and Rance in Act I and the two between Minnie and Johnson)
remains more or less restricted to only a select few, very short phrases
within the opera’s melodic spectrum, integrated into the underlying
dramatic tapestry: one of these is Rance’s phrase “Or per un
bacio tuo” in his duet with Minnie, another is Minnie’s “Io
non sono che una povera fanciulla” in her first duet with Johnson.
Others include the motif of Johnson’s kiss, the paired conclusion
(“Dolce vivere e morir”) of the second duet, and Rance’s
pseudo-aria “Or piangi tu, o Minnie” in Act III. That’s all
, or nearly so.

Johnson’s aria in the last act, “Ch’ella mi creda libero
e lontano” is consequently the only truly lyric number of the entire
score written in the style of Puccini’s earlier melodic mode. By its
formal compactness (entirely enclosed within some twenty beats of music) and
by its unity of character and adherence to the dramatic situation (the last,
most intimate confession of a character on the brink of death), this aria
conforms to the happy model of similar pieces such as MimÏ’s
“Sono andati?” in La BohËme or Cavaradossi’s
“E lucevan le stelle” in Tosca. Within the fragmented
stylistic context of Fanciulla, however, “Ch’ella mi
creda” represents nothing more than yet another vocal color, that of
the fullness of love. The character Johnson, depicted with a captivating
charm by his characteristic motif in a ragtime rhythm, stubbornly intent upon
showing himself in the conventional role of the tenor, attempts to establish
himself this way from his first entrance. A survey of Johnson’s vocal
profile, however, shows him to be such only in the decisive moment of
conflict with the antagonist Rance, his rival due to social status (the
sheriff vs. the bandit) and personal aspirations (the suitor refused by
Minnie vs. the man loved and redeemed by means of Minnie’s love).

5. A syncretic perspective

In an interview published in 1911 in the “Gazzetta di Torino,”
Puccini exposes the underlying reasoning behind his own poetics at the time
of Fanciulla, recalling the persistent vitality of the dramaturgy of
Richard Wagner, whom he called “forefather of all contemporary
music” provided one knew how to purify it of its intrinsic
“adornments” and “exuberances.”

This mention of Wagner is anything but a passing thought, given that
Fanciulla is surrounded on many levels by a series of Wagnerian
suggestions. There is a narrative line which brings about moral redemption,
as in Parsifal, although cleansed of mystic incrustations and of the
Wagnerian mythology of purity: in Minnie’s harsh analysis, the men
remain “outlaws and cheats”: the “gamemaster” Rance,
the true “outlaw” Johnson/Ramerrez, the “mistress of the
flophouse and of gambling” Minnie. There is a trace of the union of
Sigmund e Siglinde in the embrace of the two protagonists who ignore the
gusts of wind that batter their shack, but it is only fleeting. There is the
evocation of Minnie in Valkyrie’s clothing the instant she bursts onto
the scene of Johnson’s hanging, “on horseback, scantily clad, her
hair to the wind,” and heralded by a “savage cry.” And
there are musical reverberations that permeate a few key moments in the
score. One of these affects Minnie’s motif – the vibrant and
fortissimo exclamation that announces her first appearance in Act I
– which, due to its beginning interval on a descending seventh as well
as its melodic contour, alludes to the leitmotif associated with Gutrune in
Gotterd‰mmerung and, in particular, to the variant thereof
categorized in guides (from Hans von Wolzogen onward) as the “theme of
the treachery of love.” Another reflects the reiterated use of the
opening of the initial motif found in Tristan und Isolde: a
commonplace Wagnerism in Italian opera, widely adopted by Puccini in
Manon Lescaut, was the use of the related Tristan Chord. The four
notes of which it is composed (a, f, e, d-sharp in Wagner’s original),
currently classified as a “theme of suffering”, in
Fanciulla appear for the first time in the final duet of Act I, at
the point when Johnson attempts to mollify Minnie, who is bent on defending
the miners’ gold with her life (“Oh, non temete, nessuno
ardir‡!”). After which, in Act II, with a harmonization structured on
the tritone and a messa in sequenza in the ostinato form
which reinforces the original intention of the sorrowful motif, it
orchestrally highlights Minnie’s anguish over Johnson’s fate: the
episode in which she succors the wounded Johnson (“Su, su, su, presto!
Su, salvati!…”), the scene in which she pleads with the
merciless Rance (“Aspettate, non puÚ”), the dramatic, final bet
(“Una partita a poker!”) until the act closes, in the convulsive
moment of exuberance mixed with a desperate cry (“Ah! » mio”).

Beyond these Wagnerian borrowings, as numerous as conceptually
unsystematic, a number of other, varied inspirations are found in the score
of Fanciulla. One of these is a reformulation of the musical theme
of the kiss from Verdi’s Otello in the wispy orchestral
arrangement of Johnson’s thrice-requested bacio (II, 25). Another is
the atmospheric effect achieved by means of a descending pattern of two tones
separated by a fifth, in Act I (from 26 on). Here, as in the BarriËre
(Quadro III) of La BohËme, this is a musical
painting of falling snow, this time adapted to the swirling violence of a
bitter and hostile En plein air. A final inspiration is a moment of
recycling in the final act, in which the sequence of musical reprises is
analogous to that found in the fourth quadro of La

All in all, in Fanciulla the reformulation and
recontextualization of heterogeneous elements seems to be a strategy used
quite widely, involving narrative aspects, dramatic situations, musical
materials and the structural groundwork for the flow of the music. It should
not be interpreted as a simple exhibition of a taste for quotation. It may
well be, in keeping with his tendency to compose the drama in differentiated
linguistic blocks, to modify the style of stage music in primary narrative
elements, and to reduce the Puccinian lyric register into a serviceable
musical color, these citations are one of the fundamental terms of the
transition from a dramatic style coherently concentrated on the
representation of the “pathetic,” the tragic as a desperate
feeling of the self, which requires full emotional involvement (following the
model of Madama Butterfly), to a dramatic style articulated in its
presentation of the “characteristic,” in which a pluristylism and
an emotional self-distancing from the subject are essential. A stance that
the finale, in its final “dissolve,” with its reprise of the
choral melody from Jack Wallace’s nostalgic ballad, seals in a sort of
brief tableau, in which the feeling of general commotion is nearly
petrified by the total absence of lyric emphasis.

Marginal notes , d’Amico would rightly say. Nevertheless, far more
than the coming together of opera, cowboy shows (the opera typically uses
live horses on stage) and the nascent Western genre in American film (already
embodied in the first decade of the twentieth century by more than a dozen
titles), these musical and dramatic annotations written with discontinuity on
the margins of the drama mark the beginnings of a new “code” in
Puccini’s twentieth century style. [7] A setting
in which Fanciulla, doubtless a work less compact than the short
operas of Il Trittico and less polished as far as dramatic-musical
makeup is concerned than Turandot, is a high-point in at least one
aspect: its happy ending is a “metamorphosis” of character which
follows a scheme that the difficulty of composition and Puccini’s
limited lifespan would prevent him from accomplishing in the
fairytale-mythical context of his last great masterpiece.

By Virgilio Bernardoni. **
Translated by Jonathan Hiller.
Edited by Gary L. Hoffman.

[1] In particular, see Ashbrook, William
and Harold Powers, Puccini’s Turandot. The End of the
Great Tradition. Princeton
, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991.

[2] D’Amico, Fedele.
“Naturalismo e decadentismo in Puccini e La Fanciulla del
.” L’albero del bene e del male: naturalismo e
decadentismo in Puccini
, ed. Jacopo Pellegrini. Lucca, Italy: Maria
Pacini Fazzi Editore, 2000. pp. 18, 124.

[3] Letter to Valentino Soldani from 28
June, 1904, in Carteggi pucciniani, ed. Eugenio Gara. Milan:
Ricordi, 1958. pp. 277-8, n. 387.

[4] Letter to Giulio Ricordi, 26 August
1907. ibid p. 353, n. 521.

[5] Interview of Puccini by Giacinto
Cattini, in the “Gazzetta di Torino”, LII, 11 Novembre 1911, p.

[6] Atlas, Allan W. “Belasco and
Puccini: ‘Old Dog Tray’ and the Zuni Indians” The
Musical Quarterly
, Vol. 75, No. 3 (Autumn, 1991), pp.

[7] Girardi, Michele. “Il finale de
‘La Fanciulla del West’ e alcuni problemi di codice,”
Opera & Libretto II [Fondazione Giorgio Cini/Studi di Musica
Veneta], 1993, pp. 417-37.

* [Editor’s Note: This is Psalm 50 in the
Vulgate, which is commonly referred to as “The Miserere” (or
Prayer of Repentance). This Psalm is David’s confession and plea
for mercy after the prophet Nathan rebukes him for committing adultery with
Bathsheba and having her husband, Uriah, murdered.]

[** Prof. Bernardoni is a member of the Dipartimento di Lettere, arti e multimedialit‡, Universit‡ deglistudi di Bergamo. This essay is translated and published with the permission of the author from the original entitled “Le ‘tinte’ della Fanciulla” (2001) (available at]

image_description=La Fanciulla del West
product_title=The ‘Colors’ of La Fanciulla
product_by=By Virgilio Bernardoni. Translated by Jonathan Hiller. Edited by Gary L. Hoffman
product_id=Prof. Bernardoni is a member of the Dipartimento di Lettere, arti e multimedialit‡, Universit‡ deglistudi di Bergamo. This essay is translated and published with the permission of the author from the original entitled “Le ‘tinte’ della Fanciulla” (2001) (available at