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BWW Feature: FREE ONLINE OPERA/SONG JULY 10-17 at Home Computer Screens

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BWW Feature: FREE ONLINE OPERA/SONG JULY 10-17 at Home Computer Screens

Pacific Opera Project (POP) presents a watch party of their critically acclaimed production of Madama Butterfly on July 15 at 5:00 PM Los Angeles time.This is the first true-to-story bilingual production of the opera. Performed in2019 in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo and Houston's Opera in the Heights, the opera now has a new libretto written by POP Artistic Director Josh Shaw and Opera in the Heights Artistic Director Eiki Isomura. Their production presents Puccini's story as if it actually happened and attempts to answer the question: "How would Butterfly and Pinkerton communicate?" In this version Japanese roles are sung in Japanese by Japanese-American artists and all American roles are sung in English. Choral singers are also Japanese-American.

Madama Butterfly was recorded at the Aratani Theatre in the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center of Los Angeles with Eiki Isomura conducting and Josh Shaw directing. The watch party includes the full length opera as well as interviews with Shaw and Isomura. Readers can find more information at

BREAKING NEWS: The Pacific Opera Project has just won the 2019-2020 American Prize in Opera Performance for the Bilingual Madama Butterfly and the Video Game Magic Flute.

On the section of Los Angeles Opera's website entitled "LA At Home," mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and baritone Kelly Markgraf sing a program of musical theater songs accompanied by pianist Bryan Banowetz. Selections include:
Leonard Bernstein's "A Simple Song" from Mass and "Carried Away" from On the Town.
Lucy Simon's "How Could I Ever Know?" from The Secret Garden.
Charles Ives' "Berceuse" ("Lullaby")
Kamala Sankaram's "Listen," world premiere.
Joel Puckett's "Reconciliation," world premiere.
Harold Arlen's " It's a New World" from A Star is Born.
Rogers and Hammerstein's "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific.
Kern and Hammerstein's "Why Do I Love You?" from Showboat.
Stephen Sondheim's "Losing My Mind" from Follies.
Irving Berlin's "Anything You Can Do" from Annie Get your Gun.

This week Karen Slack interviews velvet-voiced mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe on her KikiKonversations Facebook/YouTube show. See it July 16 at 5 PM Los Angeles time.

The Magic Opera Flying Carpet is parked at Los Angeles Airport, usually a busy field, but in these days when few people want to fly, LAX will even accommodate a Magic Carpet bearing passengers stretched out in reclining easy chairs. The next stop is Toronto so keep a warm wrap handy.

Toronto is a multicultural city and there is food from almost every nation to be enjoyed there. Not far from the opera, a rainbow of pastel-hued macarons behind the glass counter of a patisserie awaits customers. Flavors range from unique presentations like cotton candy, green tea, and raspberry ice to more traditional offerings of chocolate, vanilla, and caramel. Canadian Opera's offering is Director John Copley's 1987 version of Verdi's La Forza del Destino with Stefka Evstatieva, Judith Forst, Yuri Marusin, Allan Monk, Gary Rideout, and Peter Strummer, conducted by Maurizio Arena.

Boarding the Magic Opera Flying Carpet after the show, passengers grab blankets to keep warm as they cruise virtually over the moonlit ocean, enroute to Switzerland. Settled into overstuffed armchairs, passengers are watching a video by Maestro Joseph Rescigno that relates to his new book: Conducting Opera, Where Theater Meets Music.

Although a cup of hot chocolate might be welcome after the opera, the shops in Zurich are not open that late, so virtual travelers had better find the sweet drink first. The best Swiss cafés use 70% Grand Cru chocolate and the bubbly top is chocolate milk, not plain milk. The foam mixes with the rest of the drink all the way to the last sip and makes the cup decadent and light at the same time. Directed by David Pountney and conducted by Franz Welser-Most, Zurich Opera's searing Macbeth stars Thomas Hampson and Paoletta Marrocu.

For their newest digital presentation, Dutch National Touring Opera (DNTO) combines Baroque singing and playing with ballet. L'Orfeo, Claudio Monteverdi's 1607 opus, is a co-production by DNTO, Studio DRIFT and Opera2Day. The director is Monique Wagemakers, the installation designer Lonneke Gordijn, and the choreographer Nanine Linning. Hernán Schvartzman conducts the historically informed orchestra La Sfera Armoniosa (The Harmonious Sphere).

While armchair travelers are heading to Milan for some great singing, the Magic Opera Flying Carpet stewards serve lemon curd cheesecake-a perfect combination of sweet and tart with incredibly fluffy cheese. At the end of the flight, there is not a single crumb left. The Magic Carpet deposits its virtual travelers at La Scala for Verdi's Don Carlo directed by Franco Zeffirelli. The 1992 production stars Luciano Pavarotti, Samuel Ramey, Paolo Cani, Daniela Dessi, and Luciana D'Intino, with Riccardo Muti conducting.

The last stop for this virtual trip is Stuttgart, Germany where the Magic Opera Flying Carpet is met by a fleet of brand new Mercedes Benz cars that drive passengers to the Staatsoper in style. Set in England during a time of civil conflict, Bellini's last opera, I Puritani, pits Royalist cavaliers against rebellious Puritans. The sweeping historical drama combined with heartstring-pulling romantic intrigue drew rapturously intense music from the composer.

I Puritani stars Ana Durlovski and René Barbera in a production staged by the directorial team of Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito. The conductor is Manlio Benzi. This production performs the entire score written for the work's Paris premiere.

Photo of Josh Shaw by Martha Benedict.

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From This Author Maria Nockin