Lyric Opera of Chicago to Present new-to-Chicago Production of MADAMA BUTTERFLY

For the first time since the 1985-86 season, a new-to-Chicago production of Puccini's beloved Madama Butterfly is about to open its wings at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

"The more popular the opera, the more challenging it is to create a new production that ratifies the opera's popularity and at the same time invites the audience to think about it as if seeing it for the first time," says Anthony Freud, Lyric's general director. "I commissioned this production in Houston; the director Michael Grandage is one of the most successful, distinguished, award-winning directors of our time. What I love about this production is that it really is faithful to Puccini's characters and story, and brings them to life in a very detailed way in a rather spare, beautiful, aesthetically very Japanese world."

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 (Amanda Echalaz/debut, October dates; Patricia Racette, January dates), known as "Madam Butterfly." In a traditional Japanese ceremony arranged by marriage-broker Goro (tenor David Cangelosi) and in the presence of the American consul Sharpless (baritone Christopher Purves, debut), Cio-Cio-San marries U. S. Navy Lt. B. F. Pinkerton (James Valenti/debut, October dates; Stefano Secco/debut, January dates) - 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 (Laura Wilde, debut) leads to catastrophe for Cio-Cio-San.

Marco Armiliato (debut) will conduct the Michael Grandage production, a Lyric Opera coproduction with Houston Grand Opera and Grand Théâtre de Genève, where it has been seen previously. Sets and costumes are by Christopher Oramwith original lighting design by Neil Austin. The revival director is Louisa Muller,Michael Black is chorus master, and Nicole Tongue (debut) 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 texts, with 11 performances beginning at 7:30pm, except for matinees at 2pm: Oct. 15, 18(m), 23(m), 26, 30; Jan. 11, 14, 17, 20, 23(m), 26(m).

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, and the Estate of Howard A. Stotler.

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