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Seattle Opera.

Madame Butterfly

Overview

The July 11, 2020 broadcast of this production on 98.1 KING FM was originally recorded on August 12, 2017. It features Yasko Sato as Cio-Cio-San and Dominick Chenes as Pinkerton. Full cast list is available below.

Additionally, check out the blog post "Asian American Voices in Response to Madame Butterfly," and the community conversation "Asian Arts Leaders Respond to Madame Butterfly" from 2017 designed to amplify API voices and engage in racial equity dialogue about this opera.

By Giacomo Puccini

An international favorite for more than a century, Puccini’s unforgettable classic enchants with glorious music of unparalleled passion and pathos. Bound by tradition and honor, a young Japanese maiden is left to face an unspeakable aftermath when abandoned by a reckless American naval officer. Musical highlights include the radiant “Flower Duet,” Butterfly’s poignant arias, and a rapturous duet for soprano and tenor.

Kate Cherry’s “sublime, visually fantastic, must-see” (stuff.co.nz) production features new-to-Seattle sets and costumes, and traditional staging inspired by stylized Japanese theater. Don't miss this "magical production filled with eye candy and, most importantly, stunning vocal performances" (Broadway World).

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Screenshot from Madame Butterfly preview.

Listen to the music

 New Zealand Opera 2013 Madame Butterfly, © Neil Mackenzie

In Italian with English subtitles | at McCaw Hall
Performance Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes with 1 intermission

Since Seattle Opera's last Madame Butterfly in 2012, our community has raised a larger discussion about works in which the composer/librettist team is writing about a culture other than their own (Madame Butterfly and The Mikado are examples). We are seizing this opportunity to encourage discussion and deepen our understanding about this important subject matter.
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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 her former life 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, Madame Butterfly (Staatsoper Hamburg); Leonora, Il trovatore (Royal Opera Covent Garden); Elisabetta, Don Carlo (Deutsch Oper Berlin)
Upcoming: Amelia, Simone Boccanegra (Concertgebouw Amsterdam); Aida, Aida (Teatro Real de Madrid); Tosca, Tosca (Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, Valencia)

Last updated: July 2017

 

Lianna Haroutounian

Cio-Cio-San

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

Yasko Sato

Cio-Cio-San

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

Hometown: Japan
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Cio-Cio-San, Madame Butterfly, and Aida, Aida (Luglio Musicale Trapanese); Tosca, Tosca (Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, Japan)
Upcoming: Tosca, Tosca (Fujisawa Civic Center, Japan); Nedda, Pagliacci (Tokyo Bunka Kaikan); Donna Elvira, Don Giovanni (Tokyo Nissay Hall, Yokosuka Art Hall) 

Last updated: July 2017

Yasko Sato

Cio-Cio-San

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

Alexey Dolgov

Pinkerton

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

Hometown: Moscow, Russia
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Lensky, Eugene Onegin (Metropolitan Opera); Pinkerton, Madame Butterfly (Bayerische Staatsoper); Edgardo, Lucia di Lammermoor (Israeli Opera)
Upcoming: Rodolfo, La bohème (Israeli Opera)

Last updated: July 2017

Alexey 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: Rodolfo, La bohème (Welsh National Opera); Pinkerton, Madame Butterfly (Austin Opera); Don José, Carmen (Utah Opera)
Upcoming: Rodolfo, La bohème (Opera Colorado); Turiddu, Cavalleria rusticana (New Orleans Opera)

 

Dominick Chenes

Pinkerton

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

Weston Hurt

Sharpless

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

Hometown: Houston, TX
Seattle Opera Debut:
Germont, La traviata (‘09)
Previously at Seattle Opera:  Giorgio Germont, La traviata (’17); Talbot, Mary Stuart (’16); Nabucco, Nabucco (’15)
Recently: Scarpia, Tosca (Houston Grand Opera); Valentin, Faust (New Orleans Opera); Scarpia, Tosca (Tulsa Opera)
Upcoming: Scarpia, Tosca (Nashville Opera); John Peeribyngle, Il grillo del focolare (Teatro Grattacielo); Creon, Medea (Opera Omaha)

Last updated: July 2017

Weston Hurt

Sharpless

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

Renée Rapier

Suzuki

At Seattle Opera in 2020/21: Minskwoman, Flight

Hometown: Boston, MA
Seattle Opera Debut: Anna, Mary Stuart (’16)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Suzuki, Madame Butterfly ('17)
Recently: Jezibaba, Rusalka (Steamboat Opera); Suzuki, Madame Butterfly (Opera San Jose); Soloist, Europeras 1 & 2 (Los Angeles Philharmonic)
Upcoming: Minkswoman, Flight (Minnesota Opera); Suzuki, Madame Butterfly (Tulsa Opera); Komponist, Ariadne auf Naxos (Calgary Opera)

Last updated: January 2020

Renée Rapier

Suzuki

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

Sarah Mattox

Kate Pinkerton

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Teacher, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

Hometown: Bend, OR
Seattle Opera Debut: Fyodor, Boris Godunov ('00)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Kate Pinkerton, Madame Butterfly (’17); Second Lay Sister, Suor Angelica (’13); Second Maid Servant, Elektra (’08); Alisa, Lucia di Lammermoor (’00) 
Recently:  Mezzo soloist, Mozart Coronation Mass (Sno-King Chorale); Maria, Distant Worlds Final Fantasy Concert (Seattle Symphony); Mezzo soloist, Bern Hebolsheimer Memorial Concert Series
Upcoming: Mezzo soloist, The Armed Man (Seattle Choral Company); Composer, Heart Mountain Suite (Whatcom Chorale); Mezzo soloist, A Night at the Opera (Walla Walla Symphony)

Last updated: January 2019

Sarah Mattox

Kate Pinkerton

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

Rodell Rosel

Goro

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

Hometown: Manila, Philippines
Seattle Opera Debut: Monostatos, The Magic Flute (’17)
Recently: First Jew, Salome, and Spalanzani, The Tales of Hoffmann (Los Angeles Opera); Mime, Das Rheingold (Lyric Opera of Chicago)
Upcoming: Tanzmeister, Ariadne auf Naxos (Kentucky Opera); Njegus, The Merry Widow (Florentine Opera); Pang, Turandot (Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Last updated: July 2017

Rodell Rosel

Goro

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

Ryan Bede

Prince Yamadori

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Moralès, Carmen

Hometown: Tacoma, WA
Seattle Opera Debut: Second Priest, The Magic Flute (’17)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Fiorello, The Barber of Seville (’17); Jim Crowley, An American Dream (’17); Prince Yamadori, Madame Butterfly (’17)
Recently: Schaunard, La bohème (Lyric Opera Northwest); Masetto, Don Giovanni (Opera Idaho); Bass Soloist, Handel’s Messiah (Bremerton Symphony)
Upcoming:  Belcore, L’elisir d’amore (Tacoma Opera)

Last updated: April 2019

Ryan Bede

Prince Yamadori

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

Daniel Sumegi

The Bonze

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Zuniga, Carmen

Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Seattle Opera Debut: Daland, The Flying Dutchman (’07)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Fafner and Hagen, Der Ring des Nibelungen (’09 and ’13); Daland, The Flying Dutchman (’16); Don Basilio, The Barber of Seville (’17) ; Don Pedro, Beatrice and Benedict (’18); Ramfis, Aida (’18)
Recently: Pogner, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Opera Australia); Jokanaan, Salome (Israeli Opera); The Dutchman, The Flying Dutchman (Malmö Opera)
Upcoming: Judge Turpin, Sweeney Todd (TEG/Lifelike Touring)

Last updated: April 2019

Daniel Sumegi

The Bonze

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

Jonathan Silvia

Imperial Commissioner

At Seattle Opera in 2019/20: Count Ceprano, Rigoletto

Hometown: Kirkland, WA
Seattle Opera Debut: First Villager, Pagliacci (’08) 
Previously at Seattle Opera: Imperial Commisioner, Madame Butterfly (’17);Second Armored Man, The Magic Flute (’17);  Marquis D'Obigny, La traviata (’17);
Recently: Leporello, Don Giovanni (Pacific Northwest Opera); Zuniga, Carmen (Pacific Northwest Opera); Oroveso, Norma (Skagit Opera)

Last Updated: July 2019

Jonathan Silvia

Imperial Commissioner

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