• La Fanciulla del West Classroom Activity

The activities in this guide address various aspects of La Fanciulla del West:

  • the historical authenticity of the opera’s setting and characterizations
  • the use of compositional techniques to convey elements of narrative, character, and emotion
  • the philosophical conflict between justice and forgiveness addressed in the opera’s dramatic conclusion
  • the stage production as a unified work of art, involving creative decisions by the artists of the Metropolitan Opera

The guide is intended to cultivate students’ interest in La Fanciulla del West whether or not they have any prior acquaintance with opera. It includes activities for students with a wide range of musical backgrounds, to encourage them to think about opera—and the performing arts in general—as a medium of entertainment and as creative expression.

Found in Translation:
A Close Look at the Real Women of the Old West

La Fanciulla del West offers a unique opportunity to students in the United States: a chance to consider an episode from their own history through the same operatic prism that reflected the Japan of Madama Butterfly and the Paris of Manon Lescaut and La Bohème. In particular, the opera offers a representation of one woman’s life during the California Gold Rush. In this two-part classroom activity, students will assess the character of Minnie in light of primary source documents. They will: 

  • study brief excerpts from the opera
  • develop their own interpretations of Minnie’s character
  • review primary sources to assess the authenticity of the character
  • debate the validity of historical representation in a work of art
  • apply their findings to predict Minnie’s behavior in a dramatic situation