Girls of the Golden West Events

September–December 2017

Public educational events exploring the themes and subject matter of John Adams’ new opera, Girls of the Golden West, which receives its world premiere at the War Memorial Opera House on November 21.


September–December 2017


Throughout the Bay Area


Varies by location. Please see below.

San Francisco Opera

Girls of the Golden West Symposium

Saturday, October 28, 2017 at 7AM

Taube Atrium Theater in the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera
Veterans Building (4th Floor), 401 Van Ness Avenue

San Francisco Opera invites you to delve deep into the world of John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West with a multidisciplinary symposium featuring panel discussions, lectures and music of the Gold Rush. Tickets are $45. Learn More

Commonwealth Club

Girls of the Golden West: In Conversation with Peter Sellars and Matthew Shilvock

Monday, October 30, 2017 at 10AM

The prestigious Commonwealth Club will host a public conversation and podcast about Girls of the Golden West at their new location on San Francisco waterfront at 110 The Embarcadero. The Commonwealth Club’s Art Forum co-chair, Anne Smith, will interview the opera’s librettist and director Peter Sellars and San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock about the creation of this exciting new work set in the Sierra Nevada during the Gold Rush. For more information, visit or call (415) 597-6705.

Holy Names University

Inspiring a New Multicultural Opera

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 3:45PM

Join Holy Names University of Oakland for this exciting program in the APPSI Speaker Series, presented by the Asia Pacific Peace Studies Institute (APPSI). This event includes a lecture by San Francisco Opera Dramaturg Kip Cranna and performances by San Francisco Conservatory of Music students. Learn More

San Francisco Opera Guild

Insight Panel: Girls of the Golden West

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 4:30PM

Get a rare glimpse into the creative process that goes into bringing this exciting new work to life on the stage of the War Memorial Opera House. Join the opera’s creators and members of the production’s cast and creative team for a lively panel discussion followed by a Q&A session at the Herbst Theatre in the Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Avenue. The Insight Panel is free for San Francisco Opera members, subscribers and students with a valid student ID; $5 for the general public. Pre-registration and tickets are available via Eventbrite; tickets also available at the door.

San Francisco Opera Guild

Opera Previews Lectures

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Company Dramaturg Kip Cranna will give a series of Opera Preview lectures on Girls of the Golden West. Presented by Guild Chapters throughout the Bay Area and in partnership with San Jose Opera Guild, each 90-minute presentation provides in-depth insight into the opera’s historical sources, creators, story and music. Information can be found at here.


“On the Same Page” book club selection for November/December: The Shirley Letters

Every other month, San Francisco Public Library chooses a literary work with the intention of getting San Franciscans citywide to read and discuss the same book. Throughout November and December, the book club selection is Louise Clappe’s The Shirley Letters (Heyday Edition, introduction by Marlene Smith-Baranzini, 2001). Join the civic community in exploring a literary gem and essential document of California history. Learn More

San Francisco Public Library

A Conversation about Dame Shirley and Her Letters

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 4PM

In support of its November/December book club selection, The Shirley Letters, and Girls of the Golden West, San Francisco Public Library will host a public conversation about Louise Clappe (aka Dame Shirley) and her letters. San Francisco Opera Dramaturg Dr. Clifford “Kip” Cranna moderates a discussion with soprano Julia Bullock, who portrays Dame Shirley in the new opera, and Louise Clappe expert Marlene Smith-Baranzini. The event is free

San Francisco History Center, Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco

Hands On History: Girls (and Some Guys) of the Golden West

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Join the archivists of the Library’s San Francisco History Center in exploring the background for Girls of the Golden West with a close-up show-and-tell of the materials from the Center’s collection. Selections will include the earliest printing of the Dame Shirley Letters; an issue of the San Francisco Daily Herald published June 1850; daguerreotypes dating from the 1850s; and other artifacts. The gathering is limited to 30 attendees, so advance reservations are encouraged. Register for Hands on History at Eventbrite.

Opera on the Couch

Girls of the Golden West

Sunday, December 10, 2017 at 3:30PM

Immediately after the December 10 matinee performance of Girls of the Golden West, an insightful Opera on the Couch discussion will take place at Books, Inc. at Opera Plaza (601 Van Ness Avenue). Led by Milton Schaefer, PhD and Reyna Cowan, PsyD, LCSW from The San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, this event will offer a psychological perspective of the opera. Admission is free.

Girls of the Golden West Exhibits

Artifacts and collections on display around the Bay Area


November 4—December 10, 2017

Gold Rush-era artifacts from the collections of the California Historical Society, Levi Strauss & Co., Museum of Performance + Design, and Society of California Pioneers will be on view within the Opera House lobby from November 4 through December 10. Items will include letter-sheets, textiles and garments, tools and other historical items preserved by California’s leading historical institutions. San Francisco Opera ticket-holders may view the exhibits during matinee and evening performances. For more information, visit


“I hope this finds you well”: Letters from the California Gold Rush

September 30 to December 17, 2017

Far from home and often homesick, forty-niners wrote letters to loved ones describing both the challenges and the rewards of their new life in California. This exhibition of rare, first-person narratives written on illustrated letter sheets provides a nuanced understanding of life during the Gold Rush by revealing the hopes, dreams, and fears of the pioneers. Admission is free. For more information, visit