SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- Music Director of the San Francisco Opera, Eun Sun Kim, will be leading Puccini's classic Opera MADAMA BUTTERFLY (written in 1904) in a New Staging, designed by Japanese Director Amon Miyamote, and costumes by the Late Fashion Designer Kenzo Takada.
For the libretto of MADAME BUTTERFLY, his sixth opera, Puccini had selected a one-hour play written by a Theatrical Producer. playwright and writer David Belasco, of Portuguese and Jewish origin, whose original name was David Valasco, the son of an actor who had come to America to work, and had worked in the New York's theaters for years, before moving to San Francisco, where David had been born in l853. When he grew up, David became an Impresario, Director and playwright, and among his plays, a one-act play, based on a novella by John Luther Long, about a fifteen year-old Geisha in Japan, who had been duped into believing that she had married a US Naval officer, in what had been a fake wedding ceremony. He abandoned her, returned to the USA and married somebody else. Years later when he returned to Japan with his wife to claim his child. it devastates the Geisha. Long had based his novel, in a true story, which had been told to him by his sister, Jennie Correll. Jennie had spend many years living in Nagasaki, Japan, as the wife of a Methodist missionary and claimed to have met Cio Cio San, the young Geisha girl, in person.
Puccini's Libretto was written by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica based on the Luther Long story, and Puccini, who always had shown strong feeling for the background of his music, did a lot of research. MADAMA BUTTERFLY was his first chance to use elements that were foreign to him. Because of it, he studied original Japanese music, and read books on Japanese costumes and rituals. His score of the opera contains seven authentic Japanese sounding melodies and fragments from other Japanese music. including the Japanese Imperial Hymn. His score also contains "sounds" that sound exotic, but were created by the composer, like his "Cherry Blossom" duet of Butterfly and Suzuki that shows a foreign influence in their melodic phrasing. However, The Love theme, which accompanies Butterfly from her first entrance on the stage and ends with her love duet with Pinkerton, at the end of Act one, in its construction and sound is Italian.
Korean Soprano Kara Son makes her company debut as the unforgettable title heroine Cio-Cio-San, a role Son has performed on stages across Europe, North America, and Australia. The Sidney Morning Herald, recently said of her performance in the Sydney Opera House "Her voice spans innocent playfulness intimate intensity and unflinching thrilling moments, singing "Un Bel Di, vendremo" with tonal purity and grace of line and without undue portent.
American tenor Michael Fabiano returns to the War Memorial Opera House stage to portray Lieutenant A.F. Pinkerton, the US Naval officer who marries Butterfly at the beginning of the Opera. Fabiano, who made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2011, has performed many leading roles with the Company including Rodolfo in LA Boehme, Cavaradossi in Tosca, and the title role of Verdi's Don Carlo. He has won acclaim by the San Francisco Chronicle for his "vocal grandeur" new sweeping and impassioned, now delicately Pointed" San Francisco Adler Fellow Moisés Salazar, will perform the role of Pinkerton in the July 1 performance.
Mezzo-soprano Hyona Kim, will play the part of Cio-Cio San's servant and confidant, Suzuki.
Director Amon Miyamoto said: "Madama Butterfly" highlights the clash of cultural and family issues but also the abiding strength of love. in our staging we see Cio-Cio San's trouble, now an adult in his early 30's who has grown up experiencing discrimination as a biracial person in 1920s America. Trouble is on a journey to find where he belongs. Can he forgive his father's mistakes by finding himself?
"Madama Butterfly was the favorite opera of Gaetano Merola, (The founder of S.F. Opera in l923) who conducted San Francisco's Opera Orchestra in its first performance in l924. Sadly. it was also the last opera that he conducted because in 1953 while conducting "Un bel Di"in the summer concert at Stern Grove in San Francisco, the 72 year-old Merola collapsed and died. Since then, Madame Butterfly, who entered the San Francisco Opera's repertory during the Company's second season? Since then, it has been presented in 38 previous seasons and as of today; it is the second most presented Opera in the S.F Opera repertory.
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