SundayArts presents New York City Opera’s production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly from the New York State Theater, airing Sunday, March 23 at 12:00 p.m. on Thirteen (Live From Lincoln Center broadcast on March 20 at 8:00 p.m. on PBS). One of the most beloved operas of all time, Madama Butterfly premiered at the turn of the century, and its tragic tale of a disastrous clash of cultures still resonates with audiences today. New York City Opera’s beautifully austere production directed by Mark Lamos stars Shu-Ying Li as Cio-Cio-San, and James Valenti as the dashing B.F. Pinkerton. New York City Opera Music Director George Manahan will conduct. Sets are by Michael Yeargan, costumes by Constance Hoffman and the stage lighting is by Robert Wierzel.
This contemporary production of Madama Butterfly premiered at New York City Opera in 1998, and is marked by scenically abstract elements such as a dominant staircase running across the stage, and panels that open and shut like traditional Japanese paper walls. The lighting blends the set and sky, creating a dramatic effect that departs from more traditional realist productions of this time-honored opera. The intimacy of the production highlights Puccini’s lush score, which will be familiar to many.
Learn more about MADAMA BUTTERFLY in this New York City Opera documentary about the 1998 production (including interviews with previous cast). Jee Hyun Lim describes the her process to take on the role of the Japanese Madama Butterfly from her perspective as a Korean, Brandon Jovanovich explains his journey to singing the role of Pinkerton, and director Mark Lamos talks about his creative process to create an original production that unlocks the beauty and purity of Puccini’s masterpiece. The cast uses the power of performance and Puccini’s compositions to bring the experience of another culture to the stage.
“One of the most exciting things and important things about performance is that it doesn’t exist until the moment we are doing it… I think it’s great for the audience to realize that they’re experiencing something that will never exist again.”–Ari Pelto, Conductor, MADAMA BUTTERFLY (2005)