Seattle—Puccini’s searing tragedy of East and West brings down the curtain on Seattle Opera’s 2011/12 season.
One of opera’s most beloved characters, Cio-Cio-San, will test the limits of faith and choose death over dishonor at the climax of eight performances of Madama Butterfly, May 5 through 20, 2012.
The production features the Seattle Opera debuts of five exciting artists, and the opening night performance on May 5 will also be the company’s first-ever simulcast.
“No opera pulls at the hearts of an audience more than Puccini’s Madama Butterfly,” says Speight Jenkins, General Director of Seattle Opera. “The story of the geisha who loves the wrong man so fervently defines what makes audiences love Puccini and indeed opera itself. All one needs is an artist—and we have two of them—who knows musically and dramatically how to convey the joys and sorrows of the title role. Butterfly affects everyone, and we want this production to be our best yet.”
On opening night, soprano Patricia Racette makes her Seattle Opera debut as the abandoned geisha.
The New York Times praised the “strength, taste, and emotional generosity” she brings to the role, which she has sung in many of the world’s great opera houses.
She alternates performances with Lithuanian soprano Ausrine Stundyte, who has “found in Cio-Cio-San the role of her life,” according to ResMusica.com.
Stundyte’s “extraordinarily expressive death scene ripped tears out of more than one audience member” when she sang the title role at Oper Köln.
Racette’s Cio-Cio-San will be betrayed by the Lieutenant Pinkerton of Stefano Secco.
The Italian tenor, who makes his Seattle Opera debut with these performances, has also sung Pinkerton in Rome, Florence, San Francisco, and at the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago.
American tenor Nathaniel Peake makes his Seattle Opera debut as Pinkerton in the alternate cast.
Bulgarian conductor Julian Kovatchev, who has conducted this opera in Stuttgart, Cagliari, and San Francisco, makes his Seattle Opera debut leading these performances.
Both casts feature Canadian baritone Brett Polegato as Sharpless, the American Consul in Nagasaki, and 2011/12 Young Artist Sarah Larsen as Cio-Cio-San’s servant, Suzuki.
Polegato, who made his debut in 2005 as Henry Miles in The End of the Affair, starred as Oreste when Seattle Opera presented Iphigénie en Tauride in 2007.
After making her mainstage debut as Mercédès in Carmen last fall, Larsen went on to sing Charlotte in the company’s Young Artists Program touring production of Werther.
The cast also features the return of tenor Doug Jones (Goro), baritone and 2011/12 Young Artist David Krohn (Yamadori), and bass Michael Devlin (the Bonze).
Peter Kazaras, Artistic Director of Seattle Opera’s Young Artists Program, adds Madama Butterfly to his other recent mainstage directing credits, which include Tristan und Isolde and The Barber of Seville.
The sets and costumes for Madama Butterfly, designed by Susan Benson and created by the Canadian Opera Company, first appeared at Seattle Opera in 1995.
Lighting design is by Duane Schuler, who has recently lit Porgy and Bess and The Magic Flute at Seattle Opera.
The opening night performance on May 5 will also be Seattle Opera’s first simulcast, made possible by the company’s four-year Excellence Award from The Wallace Foundation.
Eight thousand people are expected to enjoy, for free, a multi-camera HD view of the performance projected on a 50 x 80 foot screen at KeyArena, with surround sound.
This landmark event, part of Seattle Center’s “The Next 50,” also celebrates the Center’s fiftieth anniversary and the 1962 opera performance at the World’s Fair that led to the formation of Seattle Opera.
Production Sponsors: Eulalie Schneider, ArtsFund, Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Janet Wright Ketcham
Additional Production Support: 4Culture
Madama Butterfly premieres Saturday, May 5, and runs through Sunday, May 20.
Tickets are available online at seattleopera.org or by calling 206.389.7676 or 800.426.1619.
Tickets may also be purchased at the Box Office by visiting 1020 John Street (two blocks west of Fairview), Monday to Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Ticket prices start at $25.
Music by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica
In Italian with English Captions
Premiere of Final Version: Opéra-Comique, Paris, France, December 28, 1906
Previous Seattle Opera Presentations: 1966, 1970, 1977, 1982, 1989, 1995, 2002
Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, Seattle, Washington
8 Performances: May 5, 9, 11, 12, 13m, 16, 19, 20m, 2012
Approximate Running Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes, including one intermission
Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m.; matinee begins at 2:00 p.m.
Groups save 15%: 206.676.5588
Seattle Opera Ticket Office: 206.389.7676/800.426.1619
Online orders: seattleopera.org
Cio-Cio-San: Patricia Racette† – Ausrine Stundyte†*
Pinkerton: Stefano Secco† – Nathaniel Peake†*
Consul Sharpless: Brett Polegato
Suzuki: Sarah Larsen
Goro: Doug Jones
Kate Pinkerton: Carissa Castaldo†
Prince Yamadori: David Krohn
The Bonze: Michael Devlin
Imperial Commissioner: Jonathan Silvia
Registrar: Joseph Lattanzi
Conductor: Julian Kovatchev†
Stage Director: Peter Kazaras
Set and Costume Designer: Susan Benson
Lighting Designer: Duane Schuler
English Captions: Jonathan Dean
Sets and Costumes: Canadian Opera Company
† Company debut
* Performs May 11, 13m, 20m
David Krohn, Sarah Larsen, and Joseph Lattanzi are 2011/12 Seattle Opera Young Artists.
About Seattle Opera
Founded in 1963, Seattle Opera is one of the leading opera companies in the United States.
The company is recognized internationally for its theatrically compelling and musically accomplished performances, especially the Opera’s interpretations of the works of Richard Wagner.
Since 1975, Seattle Opera has presented 38 cycles of the Ring (three different productions), in addition to acclaimed productions of all the other major operas in the Wagner canon.
Seattle Opera has achieved the highest per capita attendance of any major opera company in the United States, and draws operagoers from four continents and 50 states.
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