Photo Flash: Opera In The Heights Presents MADAMA BUTTERFLY In A New Japanese And English Adaptation
For its fourth and final production of the season, Opera in the Heights (OH), the opera company that provides a stage for emerging performers and affordable opera to the Greater Houston Area, presents Puccini's enduring classic Madama Butterfly - with a difference. This co-production of OH and the Los Angeles-based Pacific Opera Project actualizes the heart of the opera's tragic cross-cultural love story by translating its original Italian libretto into the two languages of the protagonists - Japanese and English - and featuring Japanese-American singers in the Japanese roles.
OH Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Eiki Isomura, who conducts all performances, has adapted the libretto for the Japanese-speaking characters, and Pacific Opera Project Artistic Director Josh Shaw, who originated the concept, has written the English. As with all OH productions, supertitles in English will be projected above the stage. The production is directed by Josh Shaw, and the costumes are by Sueko Oshimoto of Kimono SK of Los Angeles. Pacific Opera Project presents the production's premiere in Los Angeles April 6, 13, and 14. The production is sponsored in part by an Innovation Grant from Opera America.
Opera in the Heights presents four performances of Madama Butterfly: Friday, April 26, at 7:30 pm; Sunday, April 28, at 2:00 pm; Thursday, May 2, at 7:30 pm; and Saturday, May 4, at 7:30 pm, at Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights Boulevard in Houston. The Sunday matinee will be followed by a "Talk Back" with the cast, and the May 2 performance is followed by a "YOLO Cocktail Hour." For tickets, priced from $40.50 to $94.50, visit www.operaintheheights.org/butterfly.
The cast includes Keiko Clark as Cio-Cio-san, Peter Lake as Pinkerton, Kenneth Stavert as Sharpless, Kimberly Sogioka as Suzuki, Eiji Miura as Goro, Hisato Masuyama as Bonze, Steve Moritsugu as Yamadori, Norge Yip as Imperial Commissioner, and Chelsea Obermeier as Kate Pinkerton.
"My hope is that this new interpretation of Madama Butterfly will be a stimulating experience for the audience, giving them a greater understanding of what is at stake in the story and allowing them to better empathize with the characters," said Eiki Isomura. "Opera as an art form continues to thrive because it is an unparalleled generator of empathy. This has always been my greatest motivation for being involved with opera - how it helps us engage more deeply with someone else's experience."
Madama Butterfly, which premiered in 1904, tells the story of an ill-fated love affair between an American naval officer, Lieutenant Pinkerton, and a teenage Japanese girl, Cio-Cio San (Butterfly). After marrying her, Pinkerton leaves for America, promising to return. Three years later, Cio-Cio San, who has since had Pinkerton's child, learns that he is returning to Japan, but with an American wife. Cio-Cio San agrees to give him the child if he will see her, but then commits suicide before they can meet. Madama Butterfly has remained one of the world's most popular operas, and includes the famous soprano aria "Un bel dì" ("One fine day").