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Seattle Opera.

Madame Butterfly

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Aug. 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, & 19, 2017

Cultures Clash, Hearts Break.

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Overview

By Giacomo Puccini

Internationally beloved for over a century, Puccini’s timeless classic enchants with glorious music of unparalleled passion and pathos. The elegant narrative recounts the whirlwind romance between a reckless American naval officer and a trusting geisha. Bound by tradition and honor, she alone must face the tragic aftermath when left abandoned. Musical highlights include the radiant “Flower Duet,” Butterfly’s poignant arias, and a rapturous love duet for the ages.

Kate Cherry’s “sublime, visually fantastic, must-see” (stuff.co.nz) production features new-to-Seattle sets and costumes, and the traditional staging also tips its hat to stylized Japanese theater.

Listen to the music

 New Zealand Opera 2013 Madame Butterfly, © Neil Mackenzie

Inspired by true events, Madame Butterfly is an often painful reminder of racial and cultural injustice found throughout America’s history. In July 2017, Seattle Opera is committed to participating in an open dialogue with the community on issues surrounding this work and will host a discussion open to all. Additionally, prior to performances, the lobby areas of McCaw Hall will be used for a large-scale exhibit, allowing audiences to consider the lasting impacts of American imperialism on people of Japanese and Asian ancestry which continued well into the 20th century. A month after Madame Butterfly closes, we will present An American Dream, a story depicting the incarceration of a Japanese American family in the '40s, to provide an essential second perspective for Madame Butterfly audiences.

Madame Butterfly is currently available to purchase as part of a season ticket package. Individual opera tickets go on sale May 24. Remind Me

In Italian with English subtitles | at McCaw Hall
Performance Time: 2 hours, 55 minutes with 1 intermission

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Synopsis

Act I
A home on a hillside in Nagasaki, at the turn of the twentieth century. Goro, a Japanese matchmaker, shows American naval lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton the house that Pinkerton has decided to lease. The house comes with a bride, and it is time for the arranged wedding. Sharpless, the U.S. Consul in Nagasaki and Pinkerton’s guest, warns Pinkerton not to take advantage of the innocent, trusting Cio-Cio-San. But Pinkerton ignores him and toasts the day when he will wed a real American wife. Cio-Cio-San arrives with her relatives. She tells Pinkerton she has renounced her religion for his. The marriage is finalized, and relatives and friends are celebrating when Cio-Cio-San’s uncle, the Bonze, bursts in. Furious at Cio-Cio-San’s conversion, he ostracizes her from the family, and everyone abandons her. Left alone with her new husband, Cio-Cio-San is comforted by the possibility of happiness in her new life, and she and Pinkerton express their love.

Act II
Three years have passed since Pinkerton’s departure from Nagasaki. Cio-Cio-San's servant Suzuki warns they have almost no money and are near destitution, but Cio-Cio-San is confident that Pinkerton will return for her. Sharpless enters, bearing a letter from Pinkerton. He doesn’t get a chance to read it; Cio-Cio-San constantly interrupts him, and then Goro arrives with Prince Yamadori, a new suitor for Cio-Cio-San. According to Goro, under Japanese law Pinkerton’s absence is grounds for divorce. Cio-Cio-San replies that since she is American, Japanese law doesn’t apply to her.

After Goro and Yamadori depart, Sharpless bluntly asks Cio-Cio-San what she will do if Pinkerton doesn’t return. She replies that she would either return to the life of a geisha, or more likely, take her own life. When he urges her to accept Yamadori’s proposal, Cio-Cio-San is deeply hurt. She shows Sharpless her son, and asks Sharpless to inform Pinkerton that he is a father—surely this news will make Pinkerton hurry back to her. Sharpless promises her that Pinkerton will know.

Suzuki and Cio-Cio-San hear a cannon shot from the harbor, and they realize it announces the arrival of Pinkerton’s ship, the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. They decorate the house in preparation for his return. Night falls, and they settle in to wait for Pinkerton.

Act III
At dawn, the drowsy Cio-Cio-San sings a lullaby to her boy and goes to sleep. Pinkerton and Sharpless arrive. Suzuki notices a woman in the garden, and Sharpless tells her that the woman is Kate, Pinkerton’s American wife, who wants to raise Cio-Cio-San’s child as her own. Pinkerton flees, overcome by remorse and unable to confront Cio-Cio-San.

Cio-Cio-San enters and sees Kate in the garden. Cio-Cio-San figures out who Kate is, and Sharpless asks Cio-Cio-San if she will give up the boy. She says she will, if Pinkerton comes in person to ask for his son. Cio-Cio-San makes the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of her child.

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Cast

Lianna Haroutounian

Cio-Cio-San

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Cio-Cio-San, Madame Butterfly

Hometown: Metsamor, Armenia
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Cio-Cio-San, Madama Butterfly (San Francisco Opera); Amelia, Simon Boccanegra (Metropolitan Opera); Adriana Lecouvreur, Adriana Lecouvreur (Theatre de la Monnaie)
Upcoming: Leonora, Il trovatore (Royal Opera Covent Garden); Cio-Cio-San, Madame Butterfly (Staatsoper Hamburg)

 

Lianna Haroutounian

Cio-Cio-San

Seattle Opera Debut
Aug. 5, 9, 13, & 18

Alexia Voulgaridou

Cio-Cio-San

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Cio-Cio-San, Madame Butterfly

Hometown: Kavala, Greece

Seattle Opera Debut

Recently: Cio-Cio-San, Madame Butterfly (Royal Opera Covent Garden); Mimì, La bohème (San Francisco Opera); Cio-Cio-San, Madame Butterfly (Berlin State Opera)
Upcoming: Cio-Cio-San, Madame Butterfly (Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie); Tosca, Tosca (Stuttgart Opera)

 

 

Alexia Voulgaridou

Cio-Cio-San

Seattle Opera Debut
Aug. 6, 12, 16, & 19

Alexy Dolgov

Pinkerton

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Pinkerton, Madame Butterfly

Hometown: Moscow, Russia
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Cassio, Otello (Metropolitan Opera); Roberto Devereaux, Roberto Devereaux (Bayerische Staatsoper)
Upcoming: Lensky, Eugene Onegin (Metropolitan Opera); Pinkerton, Madame Butterfly (Bayerische Staatsoper); Edgardo, Lucia di Lammermoor (Israeli Opera)

Alexy Dolgov

Pinkerton

Seattle Opera Debut
Aug. 5, 9, 13, & 18

Dominick Chenes

Pinkerton

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Pinkerton, Madame Butterfly

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Don José, Carmen (Palm Beach Opera); Cavaradossi, Tosca (Minnesota Opera); Don José, Carmen (Utah Opera)
Upcoming: Rodolfo, La bohème (Welsh National Opera); Pinkerton, Madame Butterfly (Austin Opera)

 

Dominick Chenes

Pinkerton

Seattle Opera Debut
Aug. 6, 12, 16, & 19

Weston Hurt

Sharpless

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: Giorgio Germont, La traviata
At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Sharpless, Madame Butterfly

Hometown: Houston, TX
Seattle Opera Debut:
Germont, La traviata (‘09)
Previously at Seattle Opera:  Talbot, Mary Stuart (’16); Nabucco, Nabucco (’15); Ford, Falstaff (’10)
Recently: Sharpless, Madame Butterfly (Berkshire Opera Festival); Germont, La traviata (New Orleans Opera); Scarpia, Tosca (Houston Grand Opera)
Upcoming: Valentin, Faust (New Orleans Opera), Scarpia, Tosca (Tulsa Opera)

Last updated: January 2017

Weston Hurt

Sharpless

Aug. 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, & 19, 2017

Renée Rapier

Suzuki

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Suzuki, Madame Butterfly

Hometown: Marion, Iowa
Seattle Opera Debut: Anna, Mary Stuart (’16)
Recently: Rosina, The Barber of Seville (Opera San Jose); Mercédès, Carmen (San Francisco Opera)
Upcoming: Suzuki, Madame Butterfly (Seattle Opera); Suzuki, Madame Butterfly (Opera Theatre St. Louis); Secretary, Nixon in China (LA Philharmonic)

Renée Rapier

Suzuki

Aug. 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, & 19, 2017

Sarah Mattox

Kate Pinkerton

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Kate Pinkerton, Madame Butterfly 

Hometown:  Seattle, WA
Seattle Opera Young Artist 2001/02
Seattle Opera Debut: Fyodor, Boris Godunov ('00)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Second Lay Sister, Suor Angelica ('13); Second Maid Servant, Elektra ('08); Alisa, Lucia di Lammermoor ('00) 
Recently: Carmen, Carmen (Pacific Northwest Opera, Opera Bend, and Walla Walla Symphony)
Upcoming: Mezzo-soprano soloist, Verdi Requiem (UW Symphony); Mezzo-soprano soloist, Mahler 2nd Symphony (Poulsbo Orchestra); TangleTown Trio, Art Song Series (Songs@Tsunami)

Last updated: January 2017

Sarah Mattox

Kate Pinkerton

Aug. 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, & 19, 2017

Rodell Rosel

Goro

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: Monostatos, The Magic Flute
At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Goro, Madame Butterfly

Hometown: Manila, Philippines
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Mime, Das Rheingold, and Monostatos, The Magic Flute (Lyric Opera of Chicago)
Upcoming: First Jew, Salome, and Spalanzani, The Tales of Hoffmann (Los Angeles Opera)

Last updated: January 2017

Rodell Rosel

Goro

Aug. 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, & 19, 2017

Ryan Bede

Prince Yamadori

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17:  Second Priest, The Magic Flute
At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Prince Yamadori, Madame Butterfly, and Fiorello, The Barber of Seville

Hometown: Tacoma, WA 
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Moralès/Le Dancaïre, Carmen (Pacific Northwest Opera); Father, Hansel and Gretel (Seattle Opera Previews); Papageno, The Magic Flute (Opera Idaho)
Upcoming: Bass soloist, Mozart Requiem (Sofia, Bulgaria) 

Last updated: January 2017

 

Ryan Bede

Prince Yamadori

Aug. 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, & 19, 2017

Daniel Sumegi

The Bonze

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: The Bonze, Madame Butterfly; Don Basilio, The Barber of Seville; Don Pedro, Beatrice and Benedict; Ramfis, Aida

Hometown: Sydney, Australia 
Seattle Opera Debut: Daland, The Flying Dutchman (’07) 
Previously at Seattle Opera: Daland, The Flying Dutchman (’16); Fafner and Hagen, Der Ring des Nibelungen (’09 and ’13) 
Recently: Fasolt/Hagen, Der Ring des Nibelungen (Opera Australia); Johhny Iselin, The Manchurian Candidate (Austin Opera); Walter, Luisa Miller (San Francisco Opera) 
Upcoming: Hunding, Die Walküre (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra); Palemon, Thaïs (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)



Daniel Sumegi

The Bonze

Aug. 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, & 19, 2017

Jonathan Silvia

Imperial Commissioner

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: Second Armored Man, The Magic Flute  
At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: Imperial Commissioner, Madame Butterfly

 

Hometown: Kirkland, WA
Seattle Opera Debut: First Villager, Pagliacci (’08) 
Previously at Seattle Opera: High Priest of Baal, Nabucco (’15); Luther, The Tales of Hoffmann (’14); Imperial Commissioner, Madame Butterfly (’12)
Recently: Zuniga, Carmen (Pacific Northwest Opera); Oroveso, Norma (Skagit Opera)
Upcoming: Winterreise (Bellevue Presbyterian Church); Leporello, Don Giovanni (Pacific Northwest Opera); Second Armored Man, The Magic Flute (Seattle Opera)

 Last updated: January 2017

Jonathan Silvia

Imperial Commissioner

Aug. 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, & 19, 2017

Kwangsuk Ku

Registrar

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: Messenger, La traviata 
At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Registrar, Madame Butterfly, and Officer, The Barber of Seville

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea
Seattle Opera Debut: Messenger, La traviata ('17)
Seattle Opera Chorus Member since 2016
Recently:  Chorus, The Flying Dutchman (Seattle Opera)
Upcoming: Chorus, Katya Kabanova and The Magic Flute (Seattle Opera)

Last updated: January 2017

Kwangsuk Ku

Registrar

Aug. 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, & 19, 2017

Cast

Creative Team

Kate Cherry

Director

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Madame Butterfly

Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Seattle Opera Debut
Director/CEO, National Institute of Dramatic Art
Recently: La traviata and Madame Butterfly (New Zealand Opera); La traviata (Opera Queensland)

Kate Cherry

Director

Seattle Opera Debut

Carlo Montanaro

Conductor

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Madame Butterfly

Hometown: Cecina, Italy
Seattle Opera Debut: Don Quichotte (’11) 
Previously at Seattle Opera: Mary Stuart (’16); Nabucco (’15); The Consul (’14); La bohème (’13)  
Recently: Tosca (Korea National Opera); Carmen (San Francisco Opera)
Upcoming: La bohème (Sydney Opera House); Rigoletto (Oper Frankfurt); La bohème (San Francisco Opera)

Carlo Montanaro

Conductor

Christina Smith

Production Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Madame Butterfly

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Set designer, The Flying Dutchman (Victorian Opera); set and costume designer, Madame Butterfly (New Zealand Opera); set and costume designer, La traviata (Opera Queensland)
Upcoming: Set designer, Hayfever (Melbourne Theatre Company); set designer, Ragtime (The Production Company)

Christina Smith

Production Designer

Seattle Opera Debut

Matt Scott

Lighting Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Madame Butterfly

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: The Riders (West Australian Opera); La traviata (New Zealand Opera); The Pearlfishers (Opera Australia)
Upcoming: Born Yesterday (Melbourne Theatre Company); Once in Royal David’s City (Queensland Theatre/Black Swan State Theatre Company); The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Australia-National Tour)

Matt Scott

Lighting Designer

Seattle Opera Debut

Creative Team

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Production Sponsors

Tagney Jones Family Fund
Barbara Stephanus

Main Photo © Philip Newton | Photos: New Zealand Opera 2013 Madame Butterfly, © Neil Mackenzie