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Minnie is adored by the miners and desired by the sheriff; she keeps everyone at a distance until... The dashing and cosmopolitan Dick Johnson arrives in her saloon. She doesn’t feel worthy of him even though he compares her to an angel, but Dick is hiding a dark and disastrous secret...
Please look at the many photos provided to see all the detail of the choices I have made to represent this story that connects with so many on a deep level. I have put a great deal of symbolism into the beads and charms selected to tell Puccini's story of love and morality in the wild untamed gold rush country of 1800's California.
Each bead and charm of the La Fanciulla del West Opera Bracelet represents a character or moment from the work. Some of the most important beads and charms are described below and you can see all of the symbolic descriptions on the spiral chart photo above or to the left. Also, a story chart explaining the symbolism of the beads and charms accompanies every bracelet. Click here to see the chart.
- Glittery brown goldstone beads represent the miners, whose lives revolve around gold. Nick the barman is a clear golden bead - the color of the whiskey he serves. A red bead indicates Ashby – it’s the corporate color of Wells Fargo, for whom he is an agent.
- Sheriff Rance is a clear bead with swirls of black, white and brown to indicate the complexity of his character. While he has am almost villainous aspect at times in the opera, he is the lone person trying to keep order in a volatile, remote situation. He has his own kind of honor and keeps his word. His Sheriff’s star is present in a charm.
- A black cat’s eye bead symbolizes the bandit Ramerrez/Dick Johnson. Black indicates his status as a criminal; cat’s eye represents his ability to see something special in Minnie.
- Drinking (an amber crystal evoking whiskey in a faceted glass), gambling (card suits bead) and jealousy (green bead) get out of hand and lead to a fight; A crackled glass bead symbolizes the broken glass that must cover the place after such a brawl.
- Minnie, the “Girl of the Golden West” is a gold glass pearl. Her refusal of Rance is a flat black disc. A red heart indicates her plan to wait for true love before she marries.
- Minnie scolds the brawling miners, reminding them of her Bible lesson on redemption (red crystal). The same bead indicates Dick’s final redemption at the end of the opera.
- A saddle charm is the arrival of Dick Johnson who haughtily throws down his saddle upon arrival at the Polka (all the librettos say so).
- A gold barrel bead is the miners’ gold – target of the bandits.
- A swirling pink bead is the romance which begins to blossom between Dick and Minnie. An angel wing charm indicates the magical moment when Dick tells the unworthy feeling Minnie that she has the face of an angel.
- A charm indicates Minnie’s cabin in the mountains. A blue bead with floating flowers is her love for the beauty of her environment, which she shares with the admiring Dick.
- A large heart with swirls of white accompanied by a snowflake charm, white pearls and crystals symbolizes their romantic first kiss in the middle of a swirling snowstorm.
- A cat’s eye oval is the revelation that Dick and the bandit are one in the same person. I like to use cat’s eye to indicate vision or enlightenment. A black twisted bead is Minnie’s fury upon learning the truth. A blue teardrop represents Dick’s sad tale of how he became a criminal.
- A gunmetal oval bead indicates Dick being shot. It is used again at the end of the opera to indicate the moment Minnie threatens to kill herself and Dick with the same shot. (To me this bead says “bullet”- though what would I know about bullets?)
- A red droplet symbolizes the blood that falls onto Rance’s hand, betraying Dick’s hiding place. A card charm evokes the card game to save Dick’s life and a yellow crystal is Minnie’s triumph in the game.
- A spiral bead, reminiscent of a noose, is the miners’ intention to hang Dick.
- A heart shaped bead made of the same gold stone material that symbolizes the miners, represents their love for Minnie and their agreement to free Dick for her sake.
- A red heart and California charm symbolize Minnie and Dick’s final farewell to California to begin a new life together.