The Local Tourist tickets for two to the opening night of Madama Butterfly courtesy of Lyric Opera.
In Nagasaki, a captivating geisha marries an American naval lieutenant. Her love for him is tested repeatedly — as her family disowns her, as he leaves Japan while promising to return eventually. When his true intentions are finally revealed, the consequences are tragic. Welcome to the intricately woven world of Madama Butterfly.
Premiered in 1904, this beloved opera has at its heart a Japanese geisha, Cio-Cio-San (portrayed by soprano Ana María Martínez on Feb. 6 – 29 and Mar. 5 & 8; and soprano Lianna Haroutounian in her Lyric debut on Mar. 4 & 7), known as “Madama Butterfly.” In a traditional Japanese ceremony witnessed by the American consul Sharpless (portrayed by baritone Anthony Clark Evans), Cio-Cio-San marries U. S. Navy Lt. B. F. Pinkerton (portrayed by tenor Brian Jagde on Feb. 6 – 29 and Mar. 5 & 8; and tenor Brandon Jovanovich, Mar. 4 & 7) – who soon departs for America, promising to return “when the robins are nesting.”
Three years pass, with Cio-Cio-San – together with her maid Suzuki (portrayed by mezzo-soprano Deborah Nansteel) and her little son Sorrow (portrayed by the young Graham Macfarlane in his Lyric debut) – waiting for Pinkerton to keep his promise while fending off wealthy suitors put forth by marriage broker Goro (portrayed by tenor Rodell Rosel). When Pinkerton does return, Cio-Cio-San’s joy soon turns to heartbreak and catastrophe when she learns of his plan to take their son to America with his “real” American wife.
This tale of love, betrayal and fatal heartbreak served as inspiration for the Broadway musical Miss Saigon. In its Lyric revival it masterfully blends together the innocence of youth, the bittersweet taste of love lost, and the ultimate sacrifice. Puccini’s score is timeless, and the vocal performances are powerfully moving. Madama Butterfly is a classic for a reason. It is worth seeing over and over again.
Hungarian conductor Henrik Nánási returns for Madama Butterfly after making his American debut at Lyric with Le Nozze di Figaro in the 2015/16 season. The original production was created by director Michael Grandage. Louisa Muller is the revival director. Christopher Oram designed sets and costumes. Two-time Tony Award-winner Neil Austin is the original lighting designer; Lyric’s lighting director Chris Maravich is the revival lighting designer. Michael Black is chorus master.
The dates for Madama Butterfly are February 6, 9, 14, 17, 21, 24, 29; March 4, 5, 7, and 8. Performance times vary. Madama Butterfly is sung in Italian with projected English translations. Estimated running time is 2 hours 50 minutes, including one 30-minute intermission.
Lyric Opera is located inside the historic Civic Opera House building at 20 North Upper Wacker Drive, in the heart of Downtown Chicago.