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Opera Saratoga Announces MADAMA BUTTERFLY


Opera Saratoga Announces MADAMA BUTTERFLY

Opera Saratoga announced today the three operas that will be featured at the center of the company's 2020 Summer Festival, to be presented at The Spa Little Theatre in Spa State Park, from June 20th through July 5th, 2020.

The 2020 Summer Festival will feature new productions of two audience favorites, Puccini's Madama Butterfly, and Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, alongside the New York premiere of a riveting new opera by Lembit Beecher and Hannah Moscovitch, Sky on Swings, which received its critically acclaimed world premiere in 2018.

The Festival will also feature multiple concerts and public master classes highlighting the exceptional members of Opera Saratoga's Young Artist Program, under the direction of Laurie Rogers, who celebrates her tenth anniversary as the program's director in 2020. These additional events will culminate in a complete performance of Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle, conducted by Maestra Rogers, on the final day of the Festival, July 5, 2020.

"The 2020 Summer Festival continues Opera Saratoga's commitment to present masterworks from the operatic canon, works that introduce family audiences to the excitement of lyric theater, and important contemporary works," said Artistic and General Director Lawrence Edelson. "We also remain committed to showcasing leading International Artists alongside the next generation of gifted emerging artists. At Opera Saratoga, audiences have the opportunity to hear truly exceptional singing and theatrically compelling productions in an intimate space that creates a truly visceral experience. There are few theaters in the world where you enjoy this caliber of performance as up-close-and-personal as you can at Opera Saratoga."

Japanese Director Izumi Ashizawa, whose work explores global diplomacy through physical story-telling, unconventional puppetry and object animation, will make her debut with Opera Saratoga next summer, creating a new production of Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Ashizawa brings her unique approach to theater, based on Japanese physical performance techniques, to the heartbreaking story of hope, devotion, and betrayal amidst the cherry blossoms of Nagasaki. Cio-Cio-San, a young wife and mother, waits for the return of her beloved B.F. Pinkerton, a lieutenant in the United States Navy. When his ship comes in, her dreams for the future meet his - with tragic results. South African soprano Kelebogile Besong, who has recently enthralled audiences at Festival d'Aix en Provence, Teatro Regio di Torino, The Edinburgh International Festival and Bayerische Staatsoper, will make her company and role debut as Cio-Cio-San. Conductor Dean Williamson, Music Director for Nashville Opera who has led productions for Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and Minnesota Opera, will also make his company debut leading the production.

"Madama Butterfly is one of the most beloved of Puccini's operas, but is also a work that presents challenges for contemporary audiences," Edelson explained. "As a historically white and European art form, opera has a history of using cultural appropriation to tell stories. There is no questioning the glory of the score, but Madama Butterfly's popularity has perpetuated and reinforced many stereotypes of Japan, and Asian women in particular. In considering how we might produce Madama Butterfly today, three things were very important to me. First, we eliminate all hints of yellowface - the offensive and outdated tradition of making non-Asian singers look Asian through makeup - in the production. Second, that we have a diverse cast who can honor the vocal demands of the opera, and ensure we are focused on creating characters, not caricatures. And third, that we have a director who can create a production that will allow us to look at the story through a different lens than we have in the past. I am thrilled that the brilliant Japanese director Izumi Ashizawa will create a production for us that will allow us to enjoy this exquisite score and story with new perspective."

Complete casting, additional concerts, symposia and public master classes for the 2020 Summer Festival will be announced in the coming months.

Subscriptions will go on sale October 1, 2019. Along with Choose Your Own Subscription Packages, two Getaway Weekends in late June and early July - during which it will be possible to see all three Festival productions - will be available as subscriptions with discounted accommodations available for out of town visitors.

Single Tickets will go on sale February 15, 2020.

For more information, please visit

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