The Wild West and the superstar Italian composer

By Richard Scheinin [Mercury News, 12 June 2010]
When Giacomo Puccini’s “The Girl of the Golden West,” an opera based on a play by the son of a Gold Rush miner, premiered at the Metropolitan Opera a century ago, the glitterati were there in their finery — the Vanderbilts, the Pierpont Morgans, the Guggenheims, says Laura Basini, a Sacramento State University music historian. It was the very first Italian opera written for an American premiere. There were 55 curtain calls! And they presented Puccini on opening night with a solid silver laurel wreath crafted by Tiffany.