Girls of the Golden West

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This first recording of John Adams’ 2017 opera, Girls of the Golden West, is his eighth music theater work to be released by Nonesuch. It tells the story of the California Gold Rush not through familiar time-worn myth, but in the words and deeds of real people. Longtime Adams collaborator Peter Sellars drew from original sources from the era—letters, journals, newspaper articles, and familiar song lyrics—to create the libretto. The composer leads the LA Phil in this recording made in Disney Hall, with the Los Angeles Master Chorale led by Grant Gershon and a cast featuring Davóne Tines, Julia Bullock, Paul Appleby, Hye Jung Lee, Elliot Madore, Daniela Mack, and Ryan McKinny.

Description

Girls of the Golden West, out April 26, 2024, is John Adams’ eighth music theater work to be released by Nonesuch Records. Adams’ stage works are among the most performed contemporary operas of our time and include Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, and Doctor Atomic

Girls of the Golden West is a California opera, telling the story of the Gold Rush not through familiar time-worn myth, but in the words and deeds of real people: in the words of Mark Twain, “the strangest population, the finest population … who ever trooped down the startled solitudes of an unpeopled land.”

Longtime Adams collaborator Peter Sellars drew from original sources from the Gold Rush era: letters, journals, newspaper articles, and familiar song lyrics to create the libretto.

The composer leads the LA Phil in this recording made in Disney Hall. The aria “Wagon Ride,” which features Davóne Tines and Julia Bullock (both also Nonesuch artists), can be heard here:

The Los Angeles Times called the opera “glorious and compelling.” After its San Francisco premiere in 2017 and a production at the Netherlands Opera, Adams revised the opera significantly. Writing about this new, dramatically more compact, version, Mark Swed wrote in the Times, “The Disney concert performance … went straight for the gut.”

Girls of the Golden West features the Los Angeles Master Chorale, long familiar with Adams’ choral music, prepared by its Artistic Director Grant Gershon, and a cast that also includes Paul Appleby, Hye Jung Lee, Elliot Madore, Daniela Mack, and Ryan McKinny.

Adams says, “Girls of the Golden West may be my most personal of all my stage creations. Like the characters in its story, I too am a kind of California immigrant … For forty years I have hiked those same mountains … And I share the same sense of awe and appreciation that Dame Shirley so perfectly evokes in the opera’s very last moment—for the fathomless splendor and ‘never-enough-to-be-talked-about sky of California.’”

In the recording’s liner note, Jake Wilder-Smith adds, “Adams’ score [highlights] the profane humor and mawkish sentimentality of the Gold Rush songs that he incorporates throughout the opera, which rise to almost sublime heights in his high-octane and inventive settings of the songs. During the Gold Rush, these lyrics were sung to the tune of recycled melodies from Stephen Foster standbys like ‘Camptown Races’ or ‘Oh! Susanna.’ Now, set anew to music that is pure, unadulterated Adams, they release a static charge long dormant within them; the resulting sparks and flares contribute to the opera’s electric energy.”

“I set these raunchy and vivid song lyrics to my own music. Sung by the male chorus, they provide much of the gusto in the opera,” Adams says. “There are resonances with earlier works of mine like Nixon in China and Grand Pianola Music, but by now I also detect traces of the Brecht-Weill mix of theater, popular song, and opera. This is a dream cast, and no orchestra in the world knows my music better than the Los Angeles Philharmonic.”

Composer, conductor, and creative thinker John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of American music. His works stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes.

Among Adams’ works are several of the most performed contemporary classical pieces today: Harmonielehre, Shaker Loops, Chamber Symphony, Absolute Jest, Short Ride in a Fast Machine, and his Violin Concerto. His stage works, most in collaboration with director Peter Sellars, include Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, Doctor Atomic, A Flowering Tree, the Passion oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary, and Girls of the Golden West. Adams’ most recent opera, Antony and Cleopatra, featuring a libretto adapted by the composer from Shakespeare’s tragedy, received its European premiere at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in fall 2023 in a production directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer and conducted by Adams. This season, Adams’ Frenzy for orchestra receives its world premiere with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle, who tour the work to multiple cities in Europe.

Adams is the 2019 recipient of the Erasmus Prize “for notable contributions to European culture, society and social science”—the only American composer to be so honored in the prize’s sixty-one-year history. As an advocate of his composer colleagues, Adams has conducted the premieres of more than 100 new works ranging from composers such as Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Wolfgang Rihm, Julia Wolfe, and Michael Gordon to works by young emerging composers. He received the 2021 Ditson Conductor’s Award from Columbia University in recognition of his “exceptional commitment to American composers.” Adams has additionally received honorary doctorates from Harvard, Yale, Northwestern, Cambridge, and The Juilliard School. Since 2009, he has held the position of Creative Chair with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. A provocative writer, he is author of the acclaimed autobiography Hallelujah Junction; his writings have appeared in both the New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review.

As a conductor of his own works and wide variety of repertoire, Adams has appeared with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker, the New York Philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the orchestras of Seattle, Cleveland, and Rotterdam. In 2022, Nonesuch Records released the forty-disc John Adams Collected Works, a box set of recordings spanning more than four decades of the composer’s career with the label.

Peter Sellars is internationally renowned for his groundbreaking and transformative interpretations of classics, advocacy of 20th century and contemporary music, and collaborative projects with an extraordinary range of creative and performing artists. He has staged operas at the Dutch National Opera, English National Opera, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Opéra National de Paris, Salzburg Festival, and San Francisco Opera. Sellars has collaborated on the creation of many works with composer John Adams, including Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, Doctor Atomic, The Gospel According to the Other Mary, and The Girls of the Golden West. He has guided the creation of premiere productions of Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de loin, Adriana Mater, and Only the Sound Remains, and staged works by Olivier Messiaen, Gyorgy Ligeti, Paul Hindemith, Osvaldo Golijov, and Tan Dun.

Under the leadership of Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Phil offers live performances, media initiatives and learning programs that inspire and strengthen communities in Los Angeles and beyond. The Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra is the foundation of the LA Phil’s offerings, which also include a multi-genre, multidisciplinary presenting program and such youth development programs as YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles). Performances are offered on three historic stages—Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and The Ford—as well as through a variety of media platforms. In all its endeavors, the LA Phil seeks to enrich the lives of individuals and communities through musical, artistic and learning experiences that resonate in our world today.

This recording is generously supported by the Lenore S. and Bernard A. Greenberg Fund.

ProductionCredits

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Music by John Adams
Libretto by Peter Sellars drawn from original sources

Produced by Dmitriy Lipay
Engineered and mastered by Alexander Lipay, Dmitriy Lipay
Recorded in live performance January 27 and January 29, 2023, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA

Design by John and Jeri Heiden for SMOG Design, Inc.

Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz

Album Status
Artist Name
John Adams
Los Angeles Philharmonic
MusicianDetails

MUSICIANS
Cast:
Dame Shirley: Julia Bullock
Ned Peters: Davóne Tines
Joe Cannon: Paul Appleby
Ah Sing: Hye Jung Lee
Ramón: Elliot Madore
Josefa Segovia: Daniela Mack
Clarence King: Ryan McKinny

Los Angeles Philharmonic
John Adams, conductor
First Violin: Martin Chalifour, Nathan Cole, Bing Wang, Akiko Tarumoto, Rebecca Reale, Michele Bovyer, Rochelle Abramson, Camille Avellano, Minyoung Chang, Tianyun Jia, Jordan Koransky, Mischa Lefkowitz, Edith Markman, Ashley Park, Stacy Wetzel, Justin Woo
Second Violin: Lyndon Johnston Taylor, Mark Kashper, Kristine Whitson, Johnny Lee, Dale Breidenthal, Ingrid Chun, Jin-Shan Dai, Chao-Hua Jin, Jung Eun Kang, Nickolai Kurganov, Varty Manouelian, Michelle Tseng, Suli Xue, Gabriela Peña-Kim, Sydney Adedamola
Viola: Teng Li, Ben Ullery, Dana Lawson, Richard Elegino, John Hayhurst, Ingrid Hutman, Michael Larco, Hui Liu, Meredith Snow, Leticia Oaks Strong, Minor L. Wetzel, Jarrett Threadgill
Cello: Robert deMaine, Ben Hong, Dahae Kim, Jonathan Karoly, David Garrett, Barry Gold, Jason Lippmann, Gloria Lum, Serge Oskotsky, Brent Samuel, Ismael Guerrero
Bass: Christopher Hanulik, Kaelan Decman, Oscar M. Meza, David Allen Moore, Ted Botsford, Jack Cousin, Jory Herman, Brian Johnson, Peter Rofé, Nicholas Arredondo
Flute: Denis Bouriakov, Catherine Ransom Karoly, Elise Shope Henry, Sarah Jackson
Piccolo: Sarah Jackson
Oboe: Marc Lachat, Carol Colburn, Marion Arthur Kuszyk, Anne Marie Gabriele, Carolyn Hove
English Horn: Carolyn Hove
Clarinet: Boris Allakhverdyan, Burt Hara, Andrew Lowy, David Howard
Bassoon: Whitney Crockett, Shawn Mouser, Michele Grego, Evan Kuhlmann
Contrabassoon: Evan Kuhlmann
Horns: Andrew Bain, Gregory Roosa, Amy Jo Rhine, Elyse Lauzon, Ethan Bearman
Trumpet: Thomas Hooten, James Wilt, Christopher Still, Jeffrey Strong
Trombone: David Rejano Cantero, James Miller, Paul Radke
Bass Trombone: John Lofton
Tuba: Mason Soria
Timpani: Joseph Pereira, David Riccobono
Percussion: Matthew Howard, James Babor, Perry Dreiman, David Riccobono, Justin Ochoa
Keyboard: Joanne Pearce Martin
Harp: Emmanuel Ceysson

Los Angeles Master Chorale
Grant Gershon, Artistic Director
Jenny Wong, Associate Artistic Director
Tenor: Matthew Brown, Daniel Curran, Adam Faruqi, Dermot Kiernan, Charlie Kim, Shawn Kirchner, Joey Krumbein, Bryan Lane, Michael Lichtenauer, JJ Lopez, Matthew Miles, Robert Norman, Edmond Rodriguez, Matthew Thomas, Matthew Tresler
Bass: Michael Bannett, Kevin Dalbey, Dylan Gentile, Abdiel Gonzalez, Scott Graff, James Hayden, Jared Jones, Luc Kleiner, Chung Uk Lee, Ben Lin, Brett McDermid, Fernando Muñoz, Mark Edward Smith, David Williams, Shuo Zhai

reissues?
new-release
Cover Art
UPC/Price
Label
2CD+MP3
Price
21.00
UPC
075597900521

News & Reviews

  • Girls of the Golden West, John Adams’ eighth music theater work to be released by Nonesuch, is due April 26. The composer leads the LA Phil in this recording made in Disney Hall, with the Los Angeles Master Chorale led by Grant Gershon. You can hear the aria "Wagon Ride," featuring Davóne Tines and Julia Bullock, now. For the opera, which tells the story of the California Gold Rush, longtime Adams collaborator Peter Sellars drew from original sources from the era—letters, journals, newspaper articles, and familiar song lyrics—to create the libretto. The cast also includes Paul Appleby, Hye Jung Lee, Elliot Madore, Daniela Mack, and Ryan McKinny.

  • Girls of the Golden West, John Adams’ eighth music theater work to be released by Nonesuch, is due April 26. The composer leads the LA Phil in this recording made in Disney Hall, with the Los Angeles Master Chorale led by Grant Gershon. You can hear the aria "Wagon Ride," featuring Davóne Tines and Julia Bullock, now. For the opera, which tells the story of the California Gold Rush, longtime Adams collaborator Peter Sellars drew from original sources from the era—letters, journals, newspaper articles, and familiar song lyrics—to create the libretto. The cast also includes Paul Appleby, Hye Jung Lee, Elliot Madore, Daniela Mack, and Ryan McKinny.

Buy Now

  • About This Album

    Girls of the Golden West, out April 26, 2024, is John Adams’ eighth music theater work to be released by Nonesuch Records. Adams’ stage works are among the most performed contemporary operas of our time and include Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, and Doctor Atomic

    Girls of the Golden West is a California opera, telling the story of the Gold Rush not through familiar time-worn myth, but in the words and deeds of real people: in the words of Mark Twain, “the strangest population, the finest population … who ever trooped down the startled solitudes of an unpeopled land.”

    Longtime Adams collaborator Peter Sellars drew from original sources from the Gold Rush era: letters, journals, newspaper articles, and familiar song lyrics to create the libretto.

    The composer leads the LA Phil in this recording made in Disney Hall. The aria “Wagon Ride,” which features Davóne Tines and Julia Bullock (both also Nonesuch artists), can be heard here:

    The Los Angeles Times called the opera “glorious and compelling.” After its San Francisco premiere in 2017 and a production at the Netherlands Opera, Adams revised the opera significantly. Writing about this new, dramatically more compact, version, Mark Swed wrote in the Times, “The Disney concert performance … went straight for the gut.”

    Girls of the Golden West features the Los Angeles Master Chorale, long familiar with Adams’ choral music, prepared by its Artistic Director Grant Gershon, and a cast that also includes Paul Appleby, Hye Jung Lee, Elliot Madore, Daniela Mack, and Ryan McKinny.

    Adams says, “Girls of the Golden West may be my most personal of all my stage creations. Like the characters in its story, I too am a kind of California immigrant … For forty years I have hiked those same mountains … And I share the same sense of awe and appreciation that Dame Shirley so perfectly evokes in the opera’s very last moment—for the fathomless splendor and ‘never-enough-to-be-talked-about sky of California.’”

    In the recording’s liner note, Jake Wilder-Smith adds, “Adams’ score [highlights] the profane humor and mawkish sentimentality of the Gold Rush songs that he incorporates throughout the opera, which rise to almost sublime heights in his high-octane and inventive settings of the songs. During the Gold Rush, these lyrics were sung to the tune of recycled melodies from Stephen Foster standbys like ‘Camptown Races’ or ‘Oh! Susanna.’ Now, set anew to music that is pure, unadulterated Adams, they release a static charge long dormant within them; the resulting sparks and flares contribute to the opera’s electric energy.”

    “I set these raunchy and vivid song lyrics to my own music. Sung by the male chorus, they provide much of the gusto in the opera,” Adams says. “There are resonances with earlier works of mine like Nixon in China and Grand Pianola Music, but by now I also detect traces of the Brecht-Weill mix of theater, popular song, and opera. This is a dream cast, and no orchestra in the world knows my music better than the Los Angeles Philharmonic.”

    Composer, conductor, and creative thinker John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of American music. His works stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes.

    Among Adams’ works are several of the most performed contemporary classical pieces today: Harmonielehre, Shaker Loops, Chamber Symphony, Absolute Jest, Short Ride in a Fast Machine, and his Violin Concerto. His stage works, most in collaboration with director Peter Sellars, include Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, Doctor Atomic, A Flowering Tree, the Passion oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary, and Girls of the Golden West. Adams’ most recent opera, Antony and Cleopatra, featuring a libretto adapted by the composer from Shakespeare’s tragedy, received its European premiere at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in fall 2023 in a production directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer and conducted by Adams. This season, Adams’ Frenzy for orchestra receives its world premiere with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle, who tour the work to multiple cities in Europe.

    Adams is the 2019 recipient of the Erasmus Prize “for notable contributions to European culture, society and social science”—the only American composer to be so honored in the prize’s sixty-one-year history. As an advocate of his composer colleagues, Adams has conducted the premieres of more than 100 new works ranging from composers such as Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Wolfgang Rihm, Julia Wolfe, and Michael Gordon to works by young emerging composers. He received the 2021 Ditson Conductor’s Award from Columbia University in recognition of his “exceptional commitment to American composers.” Adams has additionally received honorary doctorates from Harvard, Yale, Northwestern, Cambridge, and The Juilliard School. Since 2009, he has held the position of Creative Chair with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. A provocative writer, he is author of the acclaimed autobiography Hallelujah Junction; his writings have appeared in both the New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review.

    As a conductor of his own works and wide variety of repertoire, Adams has appeared with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker, the New York Philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the orchestras of Seattle, Cleveland, and Rotterdam. In 2022, Nonesuch Records released the forty-disc John Adams Collected Works, a box set of recordings spanning more than four decades of the composer’s career with the label.

    Peter Sellars is internationally renowned for his groundbreaking and transformative interpretations of classics, advocacy of 20th century and contemporary music, and collaborative projects with an extraordinary range of creative and performing artists. He has staged operas at the Dutch National Opera, English National Opera, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Opéra National de Paris, Salzburg Festival, and San Francisco Opera. Sellars has collaborated on the creation of many works with composer John Adams, including Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, Doctor Atomic, The Gospel According to the Other Mary, and The Girls of the Golden West. He has guided the creation of premiere productions of Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de loin, Adriana Mater, and Only the Sound Remains, and staged works by Olivier Messiaen, Gyorgy Ligeti, Paul Hindemith, Osvaldo Golijov, and Tan Dun.

    Under the leadership of Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Phil offers live performances, media initiatives and learning programs that inspire and strengthen communities in Los Angeles and beyond. The Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra is the foundation of the LA Phil’s offerings, which also include a multi-genre, multidisciplinary presenting program and such youth development programs as YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles). Performances are offered on three historic stages—Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and The Ford—as well as through a variety of media platforms. In all its endeavors, the LA Phil seeks to enrich the lives of individuals and communities through musical, artistic and learning experiences that resonate in our world today.

    This recording is generously supported by the Lenore S. and Bernard A. Greenberg Fund.

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    Cast:
    Dame Shirley: Julia Bullock
    Ned Peters: Davóne Tines
    Joe Cannon: Paul Appleby
    Ah Sing: Hye Jung Lee
    Ramón: Elliot Madore
    Josefa Segovia: Daniela Mack
    Clarence King: Ryan McKinny

    Los Angeles Philharmonic
    John Adams, conductor
    First Violin: Martin Chalifour, Nathan Cole, Bing Wang, Akiko Tarumoto, Rebecca Reale, Michele Bovyer, Rochelle Abramson, Camille Avellano, Minyoung Chang, Tianyun Jia, Jordan Koransky, Mischa Lefkowitz, Edith Markman, Ashley Park, Stacy Wetzel, Justin Woo
    Second Violin: Lyndon Johnston Taylor, Mark Kashper, Kristine Whitson, Johnny Lee, Dale Breidenthal, Ingrid Chun, Jin-Shan Dai, Chao-Hua Jin, Jung Eun Kang, Nickolai Kurganov, Varty Manouelian, Michelle Tseng, Suli Xue, Gabriela Peña-Kim, Sydney Adedamola
    Viola: Teng Li, Ben Ullery, Dana Lawson, Richard Elegino, John Hayhurst, Ingrid Hutman, Michael Larco, Hui Liu, Meredith Snow, Leticia Oaks Strong, Minor L. Wetzel, Jarrett Threadgill
    Cello: Robert deMaine, Ben Hong, Dahae Kim, Jonathan Karoly, David Garrett, Barry Gold, Jason Lippmann, Gloria Lum, Serge Oskotsky, Brent Samuel, Ismael Guerrero
    Bass: Christopher Hanulik, Kaelan Decman, Oscar M. Meza, David Allen Moore, Ted Botsford, Jack Cousin, Jory Herman, Brian Johnson, Peter Rofé, Nicholas Arredondo
    Flute: Denis Bouriakov, Catherine Ransom Karoly, Elise Shope Henry, Sarah Jackson
    Piccolo: Sarah Jackson
    Oboe: Marc Lachat, Carol Colburn, Marion Arthur Kuszyk, Anne Marie Gabriele, Carolyn Hove
    English Horn: Carolyn Hove
    Clarinet: Boris Allakhverdyan, Burt Hara, Andrew Lowy, David Howard
    Bassoon: Whitney Crockett, Shawn Mouser, Michele Grego, Evan Kuhlmann
    Contrabassoon: Evan Kuhlmann
    Horns: Andrew Bain, Gregory Roosa, Amy Jo Rhine, Elyse Lauzon, Ethan Bearman
    Trumpet: Thomas Hooten, James Wilt, Christopher Still, Jeffrey Strong
    Trombone: David Rejano Cantero, James Miller, Paul Radke
    Bass Trombone: John Lofton
    Tuba: Mason Soria
    Timpani: Joseph Pereira, David Riccobono
    Percussion: Matthew Howard, James Babor, Perry Dreiman, David Riccobono, Justin Ochoa
    Keyboard: Joanne Pearce Martin
    Harp: Emmanuel Ceysson

    Los Angeles Master Chorale
    Grant Gershon, Artistic Director
    Jenny Wong, Associate Artistic Director
    Tenor: Matthew Brown, Daniel Curran, Adam Faruqi, Dermot Kiernan, Charlie Kim, Shawn Kirchner, Joey Krumbein, Bryan Lane, Michael Lichtenauer, JJ Lopez, Matthew Miles, Robert Norman, Edmond Rodriguez, Matthew Thomas, Matthew Tresler
    Bass: Michael Bannett, Kevin Dalbey, Dylan Gentile, Abdiel Gonzalez, Scott Graff, James Hayden, Jared Jones, Luc Kleiner, Chung Uk Lee, Ben Lin, Brett McDermid, Fernando Muñoz, Mark Edward Smith, David Williams, Shuo Zhai

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    Music by John Adams
    Libretto by Peter Sellars drawn from original sources

    Produced by Dmitriy Lipay
    Engineered and mastered by Alexander Lipay, Dmitriy Lipay
    Recorded in live performance January 27 and January 29, 2023, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA

    Design by John and Jeri Heiden for SMOG Design, Inc.

    Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz

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