San Francisco Opera | Adams and Sellars's Girls of the Golden West

Girls of the Golden West


"You have no idea of this wild and barbarous life." –Dame Shirley


In "the most eagerly anticipated new opera of the season" (The New York Times), John Adams and Peter Sellars’ latest collaboration follows young people from all over the world who flock to Gold Country hoping to strike it rich but are quickly caught up in the optimism, greed and prejudices of a rapidly changing world. Dame Shirley is an East Coast transplant chronicling life in the camp.  Ah Sing, a Chinese immigrant, works as a prostitute but dreams of a better life. Ned Peters is a cowboy and former slave who never quite feels safe. And Josefa Segovia is a young Mexican barmaid whose act of self-preservation will change them all forever.

Music by John Adams | Libretto by Peter Sellars, drawn from original sources

Sung in English with English supertitles

See a Performance

Best Value Dates

Friday, November 24
Wednesday, November 29

Tuesday, December 5

Running Time

Approximately 3 hours including one intermission.

Who Should See It

Fans of Deadwood, Mark Twain and California history.

Please note this opera contains violence, adult themes and sexual content. Not recommended for children under 13; parental discretion advised.

Open Curtain Intermission

On December 7 our curtain will remain open during intermission as a staff member narrates the live set changeover.

Invite a Friend

Tuesday 11/21/17 7:30PM Buy Tickets
Friday 11/24/17 7:30PM Buy Tickets
Sunday 11/26/17 2:00PM * Buy Tickets
Wednesday 11/29/17 7:30PM Buy Tickets
Saturday 12/02/17 7:30PM Buy Tickets
Tuesday 12/05/17 7:30PM * Buy Tickets
Thursday 12/07/17 7:30PM * Buy Tickets
Sunday 12/10/17 2:00PM Buy Tickets


Design your own series of three operas and you'll pay the lowest price. Packages start at $63.

* OperaVision, HD video projection screens featured in the Balcony level for this performance, is made possible by the Koret/Taube Media Suite.


Delve deep into John Adams’ world premiere with a multidisciplinary symposium featuring panel discussions, lectures and music of the Gold Rush.

Learn about the symposium


Check out public educational events exploring the themes and subject matter of John Adams’ new opera, Girls of the Golden West.

See full listing of events


Cultures and personalities collide in the crucible of the California Gold Rush.

Read Complete Synopsis ›

Behind the Scenes

Backstage with Matthew: Scaling the Sierra

Our scenic facility in Burlingame is focusing months ahead as they build the new production of John Adams’ thrilling new opera, Girls of the Golden West.

Read More

Backstage with Matthew: Dressing for Gold

Designer Rita Ryack joined us in the costume shop, meeting to finalize designs and choose fabrics for the incredible period costumes that will be featured on stage.

Read More

Cast & Creative

Dame Shirley Julia Bullock *
Ned Peters Davóne Tines *
Josefa Segovia J'Nai Bridges
Clarence King Ryan McKinny *
Joe Cannon Paul Appleby
Ah Sing Hye Jung Lee
Ramón Elliot Madore
Lola Montez Lorena Feijóo


November 21, 24, 26, 29; December 2, 5, 7, 10, 2017

Composer John Adams
Librettist/Director Peter Sellars
Conductor Grant Gershon *
Set Designer David Gropman *
Costume Designer Rita Ryack *
Lighting Designer James F. Ingalls
Sound Designer Mark Grey
Chorus Director Ian Robertson
Choreographer John Heginbotham *

* San Francisco Opera debut

World premiere production

Co-commissioned and co-produced with the Dallas Opera and Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam. Girls of the Golden West is presented by arrangement with Hendon Music, Inc., a Boosey & Hawkes company, publisher, and copyright owner.


Pre-Opera Talks

Free to Ticketholders 

For every performance, join us in the Orchestra section 55 minutes prior to curtain.

The Expert: Clifford Cranna and Peter Sellars*

Learn about the opera’s music, characters, composer and historical background. With special guest Peter Sellars (except December 7). 

*Except the December 7 performance




November 18–December 9

The Ring

The Ring

Summer 2018



November 4–22

Made Possible By

John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn; Bertie Bialek Elliott; Jane Bernstein and Bob Ellis; Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem, through the Emerging Stars Fund; and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

     Art Works | National Endowment for the Arts

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Photo (top): M.& N. Hanhart Chromo Lith, and Frank Marryat. San Francisco / S.F. Marryat, delt. [London: M.& N. Hanhart Chromo Lith. impt., ?, ca. 1850] Image. Library of Congress, item# 92522389