The Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival:The American Dream

The Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival: The American Dream is a series of moments and opportunities for discussion created for the greater Cleveland community and headlined by concert performances of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) conducted by Music Director Franz Welser-Möst at Severance Music Center (May 14, 17, and 20)

Festival EventsOpera Tickets
  •   TCO’s annual opera and humanities festival is supported by a portion of a historic grant of $50 million from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation. This and future festivals will engage the greater Cleveland community and realize Severance Music Center as a gathering place for the entire community. Learn more about this historic gift.

Festival Schedule

May 18Dreams We've Dreamed: Part 1

Mandel Concert Hall
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May 19 Dreams We've Dreamed: Part 2

Mandel Concert Hall
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About the Festival

The American Dream festival will aspire to engage conversation from different perspectives around timeless questions including: what is the relevance of the American Dream today? what does it mean to the greater Cleveland community?

From what was at first a yearning for self-rule, religious freedom, and democracy, the American Dream evolved to a universal concept that anyone in coming America would be able to succeed through opportunity and hard work — to forge a better life for themselves and their family, to achieve success from your own initiative and efforts.

The American Dream remains an aspirational concept related to the promise of a country that embraces optimism for the future and the ability to shape it, as well as recognition of every person’s potential as a dignified and free human being. However, while achievable for some, for many others the American Dream remains an unattainable dream, a cruel illusion, an unfulfilled promise. The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2023 Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival: The American Dream will acknowledge and engage these subjects and offer an opportunity to explore and reflect on the American Dream of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Festival Programming

Puccini’s underappreciated masterpiece La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) headlines our 2023 Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival: The American Dream, featuring an exploration of the changing promise of the American Dream. Often dismissed as a naïve “cowboy opera,” the story of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West is set on the American frontier of the California Gold Rush in 1849. The opera brings to a boil conflicting desires for fortune and friendship. Its characters give their all in a rough-and-tumble scramble for money, love, and loyalty — heightened by a passionate music score that boldly underscores dreams of riches, hope, desperation, and desire. This opera and our annual opera presentations showcase The Cleveland Orchestra’s remarkable versatility and artistic ambition as a symphonic and opera ensemble.

— Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director

Girl of the Golden West

About the Opera The Girl of the Golden West

Often dismissed as a naïve “cowboy opera,” Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West was created for the Metropolitan opera and premiered in 1910 starring Emmy Destin and Enrico Caruso. Set on the American frontier of the California Gold Rush in 1849, the opera brings to a boil conflicting desires for fortune and friendship. Its characters give their all in a rough-and-tumble scramble for money, love, and loyalty — heightened by a passionate music score that boldly underscores dreams of riches and hope, desperation and desire.

Puccini’s underappreciated masterpiece headlines The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2023 Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival, featuring an exploration of the changing promise of the American Dream. From the Gold Rush to today, how has America’s allure and promise for a better life played out for succeeding generations — through different waves of immigration and across society’s changing boundaries?

Preview the music