With poignant melodies, unforgettable characters and a heart-wrenching storyline, Madame Butterfly has captivated audiences and dampened handkerchiefs for more than a hundred years. Loosely based on true events in Nagasaki, Japan, Madame Butterfly tells the tale of a naïve Japanese girl, Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly), blinded by her love for a callous American naval officer.
Starring Hui He • Gianluca Terranova • Lucas Meachem • Manuela Custer
Conductor Donato Renzetti • Director John Copley • Set Designer Michael Yeargan • Lighting Designer Duane Schuler
Opera in Brief
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Near Nagasaki in the early 1900s
American naval officer, Pinkerton, has taken out a 999-year lease on a little house, and is making the final arrangements with the Japanese marriage-broker, Goro, for a Japanese wedding. From a discussion with the American consul, Sharpless, we gather that according to Japanese law the marriage will not be binding. Pinkerton revels in the carefree attitude as a ‘Yankee vagabondo’ who takes his pleasure where he finds it (‘Dovunque al mondo’); Sharpless tries in vain to warn him that his 15-year-old bride, Butterfly, is serious about the marriage. Butterfly enters amid a bustle of friends and relatives, singing happily of the love that awaits her. After shyly greeting Pinkerton, she shows him her belongings – including the ceremonial dagger with which her father killed himself – and the Commissioner performs the wedding ceremony. But the festivities are short-lived; her uncle (the Bonze) arrives and curses her for converting to Christianity, and her relatives and friends immediately join him in rejecting her. Her servant Suzuki prepares her for the wedding night, and she joins Pinkerton in the garden for an extended love duet (‘Viene la sera’). He is enchanted with his plaything-wife and, while she speaks tenderly of her love, ardently claims his fluttering, captured butterfly.
Part One: The same house, several years later
Butterfly and Suzuki are alone. Pinkerton sailed for America three years ago, but Butterfly remains fiercely loyal and describes to Suzuki her dream of his return (‘Un bel di’). Sharpless, knowing that Pinkerton has taken an American wife and will soon be arriving in Nagasaki with her, attempts to prepare Butterfly for the shock. But Butterfly will not listen and remains stubbornly faithful; she shows Sharpless the child she has borne Pinkerton without his knowledge, convinced that this revelation will ensure her husband’s return. Sharpless leaves, unable to face Butterfly with the truth. A cannon shot is heard and Butterfly and Suzuki see Pinkerton’s ship coming into harbor. Butterfly jubilantly prepares for his return, filling the room with flowers and again donning her bridal costume. With preparations complete, the two women and the child sit down to wait for Pinkerton’s arrival. Night falls; as Suzuki and the child sleep and Butterfly waits motionless, a humming chorus is heard in the distance.
It is dawn and Butterfly has fallen asleep at her post. Suzuki rouses her and she carries the sleeping child into the next room, singing a lullaby. Pinkerton and Sharpless arrive and ask Suzuki to talk to Pinkerton’s new wife, Kate, who is waiting outside. Suzuki agrees, but the sight of her distress, together with memories of the past, overcome Pinkerton. He is filled with remorse (‘Addio fiorito asil’), and he leaves rather than face the woman he deserted. Butterfly rushes in, searching desperately for Pinkerton, but she sees only the strange woman waiting in the garden. Suzuki and Sharpless manage to break the news that this is Pinkerton’s wife, and that her husband will never return to her. Butterfly seems to accept the blow, and agrees to give up her son, asking only that Pinkerton come in person to fetch him. Kate and Sharpless leave; Suzuki tries to comfort Butterfly, but she asks to be left alone. She takes her father’s dagger from the wall and prepares to kill herself. Suzuki pushes the child into the room, and Butterfly drops the dagger, momentarily deterred. After an impassioned farewell (‘O a me, sceso dal trono’), she sends the child away, and commits ritual suicide just as Pinkerton rushes in calling her name.
Hui He (Cio-Cio-San) Chinese soprano Hui He is one of the most famous interpreters of Cio-Cio-San to be heard today. She has sung at most of the world’s leading theaters, including the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bavarian State Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, and Arena di Verona. Recent engagements include the title roles of Madama Butterfly at the Bavarian State Opera, Aida at the Arena di Verona, Tosca at Deutsche Oper Berlin and Semperoper Dresden, as well as Leonora in Il trovatore at Opera National de Paris and Arena di Verona, and Leonora in La forza del destino at Teatro Filarmonico di Verona. In addition to Dallas, future engagements as Cio-Cio-San include Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Den Norske Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Teatro Real de Madrid.
Gianluca Terranova (B.F. Pinkerton) Born in Rome, tenor Gianluca Terranova is one of the most sought-after tenors of today. He has performed in such venues as Teatro alla Scala, Los Angeles Opera, Opera Australia in Sydney and Melbourne, Grand Theatre of Shangai, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro La Fenice, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Arena di Verona, working with such conductors as James Conlon, Myung Wung Chung, Nicola Luisotti and Zubin Mehta. Recent and future engagements include Don Carlo (title role, role debut) in Duesseldorf, La bohème (Rodolfo) in Atlanta, Genova, Melbourne and Tokyo, Simon Boccanegra (Adorno) in Genova and Napoli, Rigoletto (Duca di Mantova) in Rome, Liège, Leipzig and Sydney, Turandot (Calaf, role debut) in Atlanta, Norma (Pollione, role debut) in Essen. In 2015 he released his new solo album: Gianluca Terranova Recital (Warner).
Manuela Custer (Suzuki) Manuela Custer was born in Novara and made her Dallas Opera debut in 2009 as Isabella in Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri. She appears extensively across Europe with performances in Luzern with Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortileges; Montecarlo with Mozart’s Così fan tutte; Verona, Genoa and Lille as Nicklausse in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann under Richard Bonynge; Venice and Salzburg with Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans; Verona’s Teatro Filarmonico with Il Barbiere di Siviglia; Rome Opera with Faust; Paris’ Theatre des Champs-Elysèes with Vivaldi’s Orlando Finto pazzo; Seville’s La Maestranza as Ottavia in Incoronazione di Poppea; Rossini Opera Festival with Il Vero omaggio and La Gazzetta; Royal Festival Hall and at Theatre Royal Drury Lane with Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei and Il diluvio universal; La Scala in Milan with Debussy’s La demoiselle élue under Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
Lucas Meachem (Sharpless) Lucas Meachem, baritone, has been hailed by critics for his “fluent, lyrical phrasing” (San Francisco Chronicle) as well as his “natural vocalism and theatricality” (Chicago Sun-Times). His 2016-17 season brings both new and signature repertoire to theaters across the United States and Europe. He begins the season with the San Francisco Opera as Dr. Malatesta in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. He then returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago for his debut as Chorèbe in Berlioz’ epic tour de force Les Troyens. Meachem makes his Dallas Opera debut with performances of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly in March. Meachem returns to Europe in the title role of Don Giovanni with Semperoper Dresden, where in 2015 he performed on the televised New Year’s Eve Silvesterkonzert with Christian Thielemann and pianist Lang Lang.
David Cangelosi (Goro) David Cangelosi has established himself as an artist who combines both excellent singing with winning characterizations. In 2004 he made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Mime in Das Rheingold, conducted by James Levine, and has returned in multiple principal roles over the past twelve years. Upcoming highlights include continuation of a multi-year performance/recording project of the ‘Ring’ with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Der Rosenkavalier with the Boston Symphony, and Madame Butterfly with Dallas Opera. He recently made his company debut with Houston Grand Opera, and reprised his signature role of Mime for the ‘Ring’ with Washington National Opera. Other career highlights include appearances with Paris Opera, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Venice Film Festival, and recordings with EMI Classics.
Reginald Smith Jr. (Bonze) Baritone Reginald Smith, Jr., a native of Atlanta, GA and 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winner was recently a Studio Artist with Houston Grand Opera. With the Houston Grand Opera, Reginald has been seen in productions of Carmen (Le Dancaïre), Rigoletto (Marullo), Die Zauberflöte (Sprecher), Madama Butterfly (Bonzo), and Die Fledermaus (Dr. Falke). In the 2015-2016 season Mr. Smith sang Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Toledo Opera, Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 with the Columbus Symphony, Messiah with the Nashville Symphony, Holiday Concerts with the Houston Symphony, Mozart’s Requiem with the Boise Philharmonic, Opera Pops concerts with Indianapolis Opera, and Marcello in La bohème with Wolf Trap Opera. Future projects include performances of Germont in La traviata with Opera Carolina.
Will Hughes (Prince Yamadori) Will Hughes has been acknowledged for having “a beautiful quality to his baritone voice that is only going to increase as he continues his career.” His recent engagements include singing with the Orchestra of New Spain, the Dallas Opera Chorus as well as Florida Grand Opera where as a young artist he sang roles in Madama Butterfly (Prince Yamadori), Les pêcheurs de perles (Zurga), and covered roles in The Consul (John Sorel) and Così fan tutte (Guglielmo). He has also sung solos in the requiems of Brahms, Fauré, and Duruflé as well as in Bach’s Matthäus-Passion (Petrus) and John Rutter’s Mass of the Children. Will received his Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees from Westminster Choir College and Wheaton College respectively.
Donato Renzetti (Conductor) Donato Renzetti is one of the most renowned Italian conductors in the world today, having conducted the London Sinfonietta, the London Philharmonic, the London Philharmonia, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic, the Buenos Aires Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia (Rome), and the Orchestra della RAI in Milan, Turin and Rome. His opera recordings include Attila, Il signor Bruschino, La Favorite; on DVD La Fille du régiment at the Teatro alla Scala, La Cenerentola at the Glyndebourne Festival, La Gioconda at the Arena di Verona and L’italiana in Algeri at the Pesaro Festival. His numerous awards include the Premio Frentano d’Oro (2002) and the Premio Rossini d’Oro (2006) from the Associazione Amici della Lirica of the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro.
John Copley (Director) English director John Copley is former Principal Resident Director of The Royal Opera. His many Royal Opera productions include his acclaimed 1974 production of La bohème, which ran for 41 years, Le nozze di Figaro (which ran for 21 years), Così fan tutte (which ran for 24 years), Don Giovanni, L’elisir d’amore, Alceste, Faust, Werther, Maria Stuarda, Ariadne auf Naxos and Semele. He has also worked widely in the USA, including for the Metropolitan Opera, New York, San Francisco Opera and Dallas Opera (US debut), and in Europe. In 2008 he directed a new production of The Merry Widow for English National Opera and in 2011 directed an acclaimed Die Fledermaus for Welsh National Opera. He works regularly at the Royal College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music, at the National Opera Studio and for many international young artists’ programs.
Michael Yeargan (Set Designer)Michael Yeargan (set and costume designer) was born and raised in Dallas. Previous designs for Dallas Opera include Hansel und Gretel, Rigoletto, Madama Butterfly, Vanessa, Aida and Luisa Miller. Yeargan’s opera credits are extensive in America, Europe and Australia, including 10 new productions at the Met and designs for four world premieres. He most recently re-mounted Wagner’s Ring Cycle for Washington National Opera. Credits for regional theatres all over America, including the Dallas Theater Center, London’s West End, Broadway and off-Broadway are equally extensive. For his work on Broadway’s Light in the Piazza and the Lincoln Center Theater revival of South Pacific, he is a two-time Tony award winner. He also co-chair of the Design Department at the Yale School of Drama.
Anita Yavich (Costume Designer) Anita Yavich has designed costumes for theater, opera, and dance across the US and internationally. Broadway design credits include Fool For Love, Venus in Fur, Chinglish and Anna in the Tropics. Opera credits include Cyrano de Bergerac (La Scala, Metropolitan Opera and Royal Opera House); Les Troyens (Metropolitan Opera); Facing Goya (Spoleto & Singapore Festivals); La Hija de Rappaccini (Gotham Chamber Opera); The Rape of Lucretia (Houston Grand Opera); Ainadamar (Tanglewood); The Gambler (Opera Zuid-Holland); Steve Reich’s Three Tales (International Tour); Salome, Fidelio, Die Walküre and Das Rheingold (Washington National Opera); Arsace II (San Francisco Opera); Der fliegende Holländer (Spoleto Festival); The Silver River (Spoleto and Lincoln Center Festival); she is a 2006 Obie Award winner and 2016 Lucille Lortelle award recipient.
Duane Schuler (Lighting Director) Duane Schuler has achieved national and international acclaim as a theatrical lighting designer for the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Lyric Opera of Chicago, La Scala, San Francisco Opera, Salzburg Festival, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Paris Opera and American Ballet Theatre. He recently designed Beatrice and Benedict for the Glyndebourne Festival and will be designing Cendrillon at the Metropolitan Opera next season. He is also a founding partner of Schuler Shook, the theater planning and architectural lighting design firm (Minneapolis, Chicago, Dallas, Melbourne), that has been responsible for many theater designs and renovations including Seattle’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York.
Alexander Rom (Chorus Master) is a native of Kharkov, Ukraine, and holds a Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting from Leningrad Conservatory of Music. Since immigrating to the U.S., he has worked as a performer, conductor, educator, voice teacher, opera coach, and composer. He has been the chorus master for The Dallas Opera since 1990 and an opera coach with the Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Savonlinna Opera Festival, Cincinnati Festival, and Ravinia Festival. He has worked with world renowned singers including Paul Plishka, Mirella Freni, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Jorma Hynninen, Helga Dernesch, Martti Talvela, Joyce DiDonato, and Jerry Hadley. Maestro Rom is an honorary Visiting Professor at Sibelius Academy Helsinki Conservatory and was a Visiting Professor at Savonlinna Opera Festival Music Institute.