Holly H. Gilson
Senior Director, Communications
What You Need to Know about Lyric's Production
February 6 - March 8, 2020
CHICAGO (12/19/19) — Cio-Cio-San, a captivating geisha in Nagasaki, marries B. F. Pinkerton, an American naval lieutenant. For him, it’s a lark, a diversion before he marries a "real" American wife. For her, it’s a life-altering commitment that’s briefly blissful, then disastrous: her family renounces her and Pinkerton leaves Japan. When he returns a few years later, her joy evaporates and catastrophe ensues when his true intentions are revealed.
- A wonderful first opera experience: Madama Butterfly epitomizes the best of this multifaceted art form, beautifully incorporating romantic tragedy with sublime musical storytelling.
- International inspiration: A short story by John Luther Long (kindled by his sister’s experiences in Japan) and a popular one-act play by David Belasco (both Americans) inspired Puccini’s operatic adaptation in 1904, during an era when Westerners were increasingly fascinated by Asian culture. The composer incorporated some traditional Japanese songs in the score of Madama Butterfly.
- One of Puccini’s greatest hits: After the first version flopped, the composer’s revisions resulted in Madama Butterfly becoming one of the most beloved and most frequently performed operas in the world.
- Insightful perspective: You can read University of Chicago professor Martha Nussbaum’s thoughtful consideration of Madama Butterfly here.
- A familiar aria: You’ll instantly recognize the melody when Cio-Cio-San sings "Un bel dì vedremo" ("One fine day") as she imagines her husband’s return to Japan. (It can be heard in the recent film Bohemian Rhapsody and also in Fatal Attraction.) You can listen to "Un bel dì" and more here.
- Historic Lyric premiere: Lyric’s first production of Madama Butterfly in 1955 starred legendary soprano Maria Callas in her only staged portrayal of Cio-Cio-San (and her final appearance at Lyric).
- Sweet Sixteen: These performances will mark the 16th time Lyric has presented Madama Butterfly.
- Outstanding stars: Soprano Ana María Martínez brings her long-awaited signature role to Lyric for the first time, opposite tenor Brian Jagde (Feb. 6-29, Mar. 5, 8), with soprano Lianna Haroutounian (Lyric debut) and tenor Brandon Jovanovich portraying Butterfly and Pinkerton Mar. 4 and 7. For all performances, mezzo-soprano Deborah Nansteel is Cio-Cio-San’s maid, Suzuki, baritone Anthony Clark Evans is American consul Sharpless, and tenor Rodell Rosel is the marriage broker Goro (the latter two are Ryan Opera Center alumni).
- Topnotch creative team: Hungarian conductor Henrik Nánási returns for Madama Butterfly after making his American debut at Lyric with The Marriage of Figaro. Acclaimed director Michael Grandage created the original production with Christopher Oram (set and costume design) and Neil Austin (lighting design); Louisa Muller is revival director and Chris Maravich is revival lighting designer. Michael Black is chorus master.
- Ten performances: February 6, 9, 14, 17, 21, and 29 and March 4, 5, 7, and 8 (performances in bold are matinees).
- 2 hours and 55 minutes, including 1 intermission.
- Sung in Italian with English translations projected above the stage.
- For more information and to order tickets, visit lyricopera.org/butterfly or call 312-827-5600.
- For information about pre-performance dining options at Lyric, visit lyricopera.org/dining to learn about on-site restaurants, beverage service, and more
Lyric Opera of Chicago's mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.
Founded in 1954, Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.
Under the leadership of general director, president & CEO Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become The Great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility.
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