Preview: MADAMA BUTTERFLY (San Francisco Opera)

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by Tony Frankel on June 15, 2014

in Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area


Patricia Racette (Cio-Cio-San), Elizabeth DeShong (Susuki) and kurogo (Act II) in SF Opera's MADAMA BUTTERFLY.For those who saw the visually striking production of San Francisco Opera’s The Magic Flute (2012), designed by the ceramic artist and sculptor Jun Kaneko, an even greater treat is in store as Kaneko returns with a new-to-San Francisco production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, starring the in-demand American soprano Patricia Racette as Cio-Cio-San. Leslie Swackhamer makes her Company debut as director for this “Butterfly that soars in style,” according to Vancouver’s Globe and Mail. “The visual component of this production is so compelling, and so intelligent, that it lifts this opera to a new level.” The production photos are in and the color-saturated design is proof of the ocular orgasm you will have as Puccini’s beautiful, tragic love story opens today at the War Memorial Opera House, playing through July 9, 2014.

Patricia Racette (Cio-Cio-San) in Act II of SF Opera's MADAMA BUTTERFLY.Yet this will also be an aural adventure: Racette, celebrating her twenty-fourth anniversary with SF Opera, has proved herself to be in terrific voice this season. Stage and Cinema’s review of Mefistofele said, “The best thing in the show was soprano Patricia Racette, who not only offered fluid phrasing and silvery top notes, but acted the role of Margherita beautifully, moving from a youthful gullibility in ‘The Garden’ to melancholic sorrow in ‘The Death of Margherita.’ Later in Act IV, Racette gives the role of Helen of Troy a sumptuous graciousness.” In her role debut as Julie La Verne in Show Boat, S&C hailed, “Racette personifies the theatrical star she portrays, outshining all else in two of the musical’s big hits, ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man’ and ‘Bill,’ delivering both with whipping wholehearted force.”

Patricia Racette (Cio-Cio-San) and Brian Jagde (Pinkerton) in SF Opera's MADAMA BUTTERFLY.American tenor Brian Jagde stars opposite Racette as Cio-Cio-San’s love, the American naval lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton. The Washington Times wrote of his Pinkerton: “Brian Jagde was forceful, decisive, and powerful as Butterfly’s anti-hero.” Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong is Butterfly’s maid and confidante Suzuki; reviewing her performance at the Met, The New York Times said: “DeShong was outstanding. With her deeply resonant low register, she created a character who is tragically prescient about the unfolding disaster.” This bold and beautiful production features the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti and Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi.

Patricia Racette (Cio-Cio-San) in SF Opera's MADAMA © Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Madama Butterfly
San Francisco Opera
Nicola Luisotti, conductor
Giuseppe Finzi, conductor (7/6, 7/9)
co-production with Opera Omaha
War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave
running time: 2:50 including one intermission
sung in Italian with English supertitles
scheduled to end on July 9, 2014
for tickets, call (415) 864-3330
or visit

Cio-Cio-San Patricia Racette
Lt. B. F. Pinkerton Brian Jagde
Suzuki Elizabeth DeShong
Sharpless Brian MulliganBrian Jagde as Pinkerton in San Francisco Opera's MADAMA BUTTERFLY
Goro Julius Ahn
Prince Yamadori Efrain Solis
The Bonze Morris Robinson
Kate Pinkerton Jacqueline Piccolino
Imperial Commissioner Hadleigh Adams
Aunt Janet Campbell
Cousin Virginia Pluth
Mother Laurel Cameron Porter
Yakuside Christopher Jackson
Official Registrar Jere Torkelson
Sorrow Miles Sperske

Patricia Racette as Cio-Cio-San and Brian Jagde as Pinkerton with chorus in SF Opera's MADAMA BUTTERFLY. Patricia Racette (Cio-Cio-San) and Morris Robinson (The Bonze) in SF Opera's MADAMA BUTTERFLY. Patricia Racette (Cio-Cio-San) and Elizabeth DeShong (Suzuki) in Act II of SF Opera's MADAMA BUTTERFLY. Julius Ahn (Goro), Brian Jagde (Pinkerton), Jere Torkelsen (The Registrar), Hadleigh Adams (The Imperial Commissioner) and Patricia Racette (Cio-Cio-San) in SF Opera's MADAMA BUTTERFLY Jacqueline Piccolino (Kate Pinkerton), Brian Mulligan (Sharpless) and Patricia Racette (Cio-Cio-San) in SF Opera's MADAMA BUTTERFLY. Elizabeth DeShong (Suzuki) and Patricia Racette (Cio-Cio-San) in SF Opera's MADAMA BUTTERFLY. Efrain Solis (Prince Yamadori), Patricia Racette (Cio-Cio-San) and Brian Mulligan (Sharpless) in SF Opera's MADAMA BUTTERFLY. Brian Mulligan (Sharpless) and Brian Jagde (Pinkerton) in SF Opera's MADAMA BUTTERFLY.


{ 1 comment }

Corinne Kulick June 22, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Brilliant description

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