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Soprano Patricia Racette Stars in Lyric Opera of Chicago's MADAMA BUTTERFLY Tonight

American soprano Patricia Racette, known throughout the world for her portrayal of Cio-Cio-San (a.k.a. Madama Butterfly), will star in the Lyric Opera of Chicago production of Puccini's ever-popular masterpiece, Madama Butterfly, which opens at Lyric tonight, January 11. There will be six performances - Jan. 11, 14, 17, and 20 beginning at 7:30pm, and Jan. 23 and 26 beginning at 2pm.

"Her singing was robust, nuanced and passionate," wrote The New York Times of Racette's portrayal of the young geisha who sacrifices everything for love. "Hers is a performance not to be missed." Racette has previously portrayed Butterfly at Lyric in the 2008-09 season and at the Ravinia Festival, as well as in Barcelona, Munich, Florence, Sydney, New York (Metropolitan Opera), San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

Appearing with Racette in his Lyric debut is Stefano Secco as Lt. B. F. Pinkerton. "Here is gorgeous, nuanced Italiante tenor singing," wrote Opera News of the Italian-born tenor. Secco is also a very capable jazz drummer whose influences include Max Roach and Gene Krupa and who has performed at the Blue Note in Milan.

Racette and Secco have performed these roles together previously in Florence and in San Francisco. At Lyric they will appear in the Michale Grandage production, directed here by Louisa Muller, "...a staging that trusts the score, the singing and the dramatic action to tell the story" (Chicago Tribune).

Giacomo Puccini created an operatic masterpiece of romance and tragedy from John Luther Long's story and the drama by David Belasco. Premiered in 1904, this beloved opera has at its heart a Japanese geisha, Cio-Cio-San (Patricia Racette), known as "Madam Butterfly." In a traditional Japanese ceremony arranged by marriage-broker Goro (tenor David Cangelosi) and witnessed by the American consul Sharpless (baritone Christopher Purves), Cio-Cio-San marries U. S. Navy Lt. B. F. Pinkerton (tenor Stefano Secco, debut) - who does not take the marriage seriously and soon departs for America, promising to return "when the robins are nesting." Three years pass, with Cio-Cio-San - along with her maid Suzuki (mezzo-soprano MaryAnn McCormick) and her little son - waiting for Pinkerton to come back. When he does, his wish to take his son to America with his "real" American wife Kate (soprano Laura Wilde) leads to catastrophe for Cio-Cio-San.

Marco Armiliato returns toconduct, as he did in October when this production was first seen at Lyric (with Amanda Echalaz and James Valenti in the leading roles). This is a Lyric Opera coproduction with Houston Grand Opera (premiere) and Grand Théâtre de Genève, where it has been presented previously. Sets and costumes are by Christopher Oram with original lighting design by Neil Austin. The revival director is Louisa Muller, Michael Black is chorus master, and Nicole Tongue is choreographer.

Lyric's first performances of Madama Butterfly, in 1955, starred American soprano Maria Callas in her only staged portrayal of Cio-Cio-San.

Madama Butterfly will be sung in Italian with projected English translations.

Lyric Opera coproduction generously made possible by Mr. and Mrs. J. Christopher Reyes, James N. and Laurie V. Bay,the Walter E. Heller Foundation in honor of Alyce H. DeCosta, andthe Estate of Howard A. Stotler.

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