Tag Archives: Madame Butterfly

What Opera Should I See First? Here’s a list.

You’ve read the rave reviews, watched the season trailer, and seen your friends’ Instagrams at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Now, you want to experience a night at the opera. The only problem is – there are a lot of choices and you don’t know which opera to see first.

We’re here to help. Below are a few great starter operas, some of which are coming to LA Opera this season.

CARMEN

Ana María Martínez as Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Ana María Martínez as the title character in Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

There’s a reason why everybody loves Carmen. It’s about an independent, wild, and fierce woman from the south of Spain, who has no shortage of admirers. This realistic, action-packed story has become one of the most popular operas in the world. That’s because of its Spanish flair, grand music, and tragic love triangle. Also, whether you’re a Westworld fan or you like The Muppets, we know you’ve heard the music from Carmen before (“Habanera”).

You’re already familiar with Carmen, so why not make it your first opera experience this September?

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An Opera-Filled Valentine’s Day

It’s that time of year again. The Season of Love. It’s the perfect time to show your romantic side, and nothing says romance like an evening of Mozart or Strauss. Ever thought of surprising the ones you love with the gift of opera on Valentine’s Day? Here’s a list of the most romantic operas to give your significant other the opera experience of a lifetime.

The Abduction from the Seraglio

This Mozart treasure is perfect for a fun, romantic evening at the opera. Our production is set in the 1920s and has the feeling of a classic screwball comedy (think Bringing Up Baby). It’s light, it’s funny and it’s perfect for any first – first opera, first date. With two intermissions, there’s time to share some bubbly while enjoying an evening together.

En route from Istanbul to Paris, two beautiful damsels in distress are held captive aboard the luxurious Orient Express by a notorious Ottoman royal. It’s up to their faithful lovers to rescue them before it’s too late! James Conlon conducts a brilliant ensemble of soloists, including bass Morris Robinson as the Pasha’s delightfully nefarious henchman Osmin. Hamish Linklater makes his company debut in the pivotal role of the Pasha Selim.

Salome

Patricia Racette as the title character in Salome (2015) at Opera San Antonio; Photo: Karen Almond

Patricia Racette as the title character in Salome (2015) at Opera San Antonio; Photo: Karen Almond

If you’re looking for a short, but thrilling night at the opera, Salome is the opera to give your loved on Valentine’s Day. Filled with unbridle passion and seduction, this one will give you lots to talk about.

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How Nicholas Brownlee Went From “Performing” on the Football Field to Being a Rising Opera Star

Nicholas Brownlee as Colline in La Bohème (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

Nicholas Brownlee as Colline in La Bohème (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

By the time bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee finishes his second season in LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, he will have appeared in six different productions with the company. His is the robust voice audiences have heard from off stage in Moby-Dick and The Magic Flute and on stage in Madame Butterfly. He’s also the singer they will see in such diverse roles as Colline in the current production of La Bohème and as Cesare Angelotti in next season’s Tosca. While the 2015 Met Council Winner may sound and look at home on stage now, he did not always want to pursue a career in opera.

“I was always into performing, whether it was on the football field – I’m a super sports guy – or in choir,” says Brownlee, who originally wanted to be a choral conductor.  That all changed when he had his first opera experience.

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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Madame Butterfly

title character in Madame Butterfly (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

Ana María Martínez as the title character in Madame Butterfly (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

Madame Butterfly takes flight one last time on April 3, wowing audiences with amazing voices and interesting staging. In case you’ve missed the Madame Butterfly love these past few weeks, we’ve collected a bunch of articles and a video for you to check out and see why Madame Butterfly is a Puccini masterpiece.

Get To Know Madame Butterfly

Lee Blakeley Talks Directing “The Humming Chorus”

“The Humming Chorus” is a rare moment of peace in the tragic love story that is Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. In the scene, Butterfly does not sing or move for three minutes. She holds a silent vigil, waiting for Pinkerton (her American husband) to return, while an off-stage chorus sings wordlessly. “The Humming Chorus” carries an enormous amount of emotional weight, highlighted in LA Opera’s current production by director Lee Blakeley’s novel take on which character the scene belongs to.

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Lee Blakeley Talks Directing “The Humming Chorus”

Madame Butterfly (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

Madame Butterfly (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

“The Humming Chorus” is a rare moment of peace in the tragic love story that is Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. In the scene, Butterfly does not sing or move for three minutes. She holds a silent vigil, waiting for Pinkerton (her American husband) to return, while an off-stage chorus sings. “The Humming Chorus” is a scene that carries an enormous amount of emotional weight, highlighted in LA Opera’s current production by director Lee Blakeley’s novel take on which character the scene belongs to.

For Blakeley, whether he is directing theater or opera, it is all about storytelling. When he signed on to direct this production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, he went back to basics. His primary job in the early stages of directing was to answer the question, “What do you strip away to find the essential truth of the piece?” He knew the first thing he had to do was rid himself of any preconceived notions of what the opera could be, which can be difficult with such a familiar work as Butterfly. With a blank sheet of paper and the libretto, he listened to Puccini’s music, while working through the text.

Blakeley came to understand that the essential truth – or theme – of Madame Butterfly is “loyalty in the face of adversity.” That singular theme informed all of Blakeley’s directorial choices for this production, whether it was the decisions he preplanned (for example, updating the setting to 1904, the year the opera premiered) or choices he “discovered along the way,” while working with singers.

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An Inspired Puccini Composes “The Humming Chorus”

Milena Kitic as Suzuki in Madame Butterfly (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

Milena Kitic as Suzuki in Madame Butterfly (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

In the fall of 1900, Giacomo Puccini sat in a London theater, mesmerized by a play entitled Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan. In the play, “Butterfly,” a Japanese geisha, abandoned by her American naval officer husband, Pinkerton, awaits his return. Puccini immediately grasped the operatic potential in the play’s doomed love story and clash of cultures. Yet one scene in particular—created by the play’s writer, producer and director, David Belasco—inspired him most of all.

Butterfly sits in the center of the stage, holding an overnight vigil, awaiting Pinkerton’s long-overdue return. For several long minutes, she does not speak. Time passes. The sun sets, the stars come out, fade, and then the sun rises again. In the audience, Puccini and those around him truly empathized with Butterfly. The powerful staging eliminated all the distractions, allowing them to focus solely on her emotional plight. It was at that moment that Puccini not only resolved to make Butterfly his next opera, but he also decided to make Butterfly’s vigil an arresting musical moment. Such a long stretch of silence had never been explored in opera and he was determined to see it come to life on the operatic stage.

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Music Monday: “Un bel di vedremo”

Ana María Martínez as the title character in Madame Butterfly 92016); Photo: Ken Howard

Ana María Martínez as the title character in Madame Butterfly (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

There are some pieces of music that instantly make the hair on your arms stand up – or give you goosebumps – or both. It’s usually the ones that break your heart while they’re at it. In the opera world, arias are the go-to heartbreakers. You’ve heard them, from Violetta’s final aria (Verdi’s La Traviata) to “Il dolce suono” (Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor). Why? An aria – like a monologue in a play or a solo song in a musical – is the truest expression of a character’s desires and soul; it’s an outpouring of emotion. They’re usually sung when a character is most vulnerable.

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Madame Butterfly In Film

Ana María Martínez as the title character in Madame Butterfly (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

Ana María Martínez as the title character in Madame Butterfly (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

Between “Nessun dorma” (Turandot) and “O soave fanciulla” (La Boheme), Puccini’s compositions are arguably the most widely used operatic music in cinema. Yet, it is not only his music that has been used, but also his dramatic storylines. Take Madame Butterfly. The story follows the trials of Cio-Cio San, a Japanese geisha, who marries American naval officer Pinkerton. She loves him, but he abandons her and returns to the United States. Pinkerton returns three years later – a new American wife in tow – and demands that Cio-Cio give up their son. Puccini’s tragic east meets west tale has been adapted into many films (including a 1975 filmed opera starring Mirella Freni and Plácido Domingo and a 1995 filmed opera conducted by James Conlon).

Madame Butterfly (1915)

This film is what happens when one of the greatest silent movie actresses – Mary Pickford – tackles Madame Butterfly.

Madame Butterfly (1932)

Marion Gering’s film is not a musical, but it does utilize a significant amount of Puccini’s music and stars a dashingly youthful Cary Grant as Pinkerton.

  1. Butterfly (1993)

David Cronenberg (who made his LA Opera debut directing The Fly in 2008) updated Puccini’s tale to 1960s China, just before the Cultural Revolution. In the film, a French diplomat (Jeremy Irons) falls in love with a Chinese opera diva, unaware that she is actually a man (played by John Lone).

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Community Circle: Opera For All

LA Opera has a great way for you to experience opera with your organization. Have you heard of it? The program is called Community Circle and it’s the perfect way for you to see the stellar mainstage productions we have this season (Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and La Boheme).

Embracing Our Community, One Voice At A Time.

We believe that experiencing and participating in the arts is a basic human right, essential to building community and part of LA Opera’s civic responsibility. Regardless of one’s background or means, opera is for everyone. We seek to ensure that everyone has access to opera and has an opportunity to participate in creating opera.

Through our Community Circle program, we are able to share the experience with students, low-income senior citizens, and underserved community groups. Hundreds of tickets are set aside in our orchestra level for every performance to accommodate these special groups, supplementing the extensive education and community outreach initiatives our company does throughout the year. (These tickets are not available for sale to the public.) Carefully selected groups will be able to experience opera at a significantly reduced price and, at times, even at no cost.

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What Kind of Opera Valentine Are You?

Rolando Villazón and Anna Netrebko as the tile characters in Romeo et Juliette (2006); Photo: Robert Millard

Rolando Villazón and Anna Netrebko as the title characters in Romeo et Juliette (2006); Photo: Robert Millard

Opera is all about love. Passionate Love. Unrequited Love. Betrayed Love. Desperate Love. You-name-it love. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to find out what kind of opera valentine you are.

The Storybook Romantic

You’re the kind of person, who appreciates storybook romance, even if it ends in tragedy. For you, it’s all Puccini, Verdi, and Mozart all the time. You can get down with the unrequited romance just as much as you can love the fantastical loves that conquer all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_B4yKMKmwA

Best Opera Next Up at LAO: Madame Butterfly

Other Operas to Check Out: The Magic Flute, La Boheme, Tosca

The Cinema Siren

You live and breathe film and love it when opera productions are inspired by your favorite movies or film eras (or when films use or are inspired by opera). Operatic love is like a good Classic Hollywood film; whether it ends happily or tragically, the love is always spectacular.

The Magic Flute (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

The Magic Flute (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

Best Opera Next Up at LAO: The Magic Flute

Other Operas to Check Out: La Boheme, Macbeth , Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror

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Iconic Productions: The Damnation of Faust and Madame Butterfly

“Faust embodies man in our modern industrial society; he is a self-sufficient, intellectual egocentric who has romantic ideas and longings. He strives for the independent loneliness, for power and control over the world (performances and science), and for conquest and possession (love). It is a vicious cycle that ultimately leads to the destruction of man and world.” – The Damnation of Faust director Achim Freyer

A scene from <em>The Damnation of Faust</em> (2003); Photo: Robert Millard

A scene from The Damnation of Faust (2003); Photo: Robert Millard

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Holiday Operapalooza! Give the gift of opera this Holiday Season

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6oGBJbok64

Thousands of people just like you come to LA Opera each year to experience the magnificence that can only be found in opera. Through world-class staging and bold experimentation, opera has something for everyone, regardless of age, musical preferences or means.

Here are some ways you can give the gift of opera this holiday season:

For Film Junkies – Travel to the Roaring Twenties

The Magic Flute (2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

LA Opera’s game-changing production of The Magic Flute returns in February 2016. Packed with stage wizardry, the beloved Mozart classic plunges audiences into an incredible fantasy world, where singers interact with hand-drawn animation straight out of the silent-era film.

Interested in the classics? Get down with Puccini’s Madame Butterfly

title character in Madame Butterfly (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

Ana María Martínez as the title character in Madame Butterfly (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

Puccini’s cherished music in Madame Butterfly tells the tale of a naïve young woman who commits to a man utterly unworthy of her love. We all know where it goes from there, but you won’t want to miss this gorgeous production in April 2016.

Look Ahead to a Romantic Spring

La Boheme, a timeless classic, reveling in the cinematic romance of Paris, concludes our mainstage season of masterpieces. Fall in love again with La Bohème’s unforgettable blend of riveting theater and achingly beautiful music as we follow the tale of six impoverished young bohemians, surviving only on laughter and the promise of love.

Create Your Own Opera Experience

Our Design-You-Own Package (DYO) offers the flexibility to enjoy opera on the dates that work with your schedule. You will receive some key benefits, such as discounted ticket exchange, priority purchasing, subscriber benefits, and more. DYO packages are on sale now. Select the operas you’d like to see and join us for your own truly unique LA Opera experience.

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7 Opera Halloween Costumes

This is the time of year when things get spooky – horrific even! It’s also that time when people scour various pop up Halloween stores in search of the perfect costume. Here at LA Opera, we don’t have your typical witches (Hocus Pocus, anyone?), vampires (Dracula), and ghosts (do you see dead people Sixth Sense style?). While these are all good options, consider taking your costume to an operatic level with these 9 opera Halloween costumes.

The Countess in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades is a force to be reckoned with, dead or alive. With her obsession about keeping the secret of what makes her constantly win at cards, the Countess is more fun and regal than other aristocrats (looking at you, Cleopatra!).

The cast of The Queen of Spades (2001); Photo: Ken Howard

The cast of The Queen of Spades (2001); Photo: Ken Howard

The Dragon in Elliot Goldenthal and Julie Taymor’s Grendel puts Khaleesi’s brood to shame.

Denyse Graves as The Dragon in Grendel (2006); Photo: Robert Millard

Dressing up as Don Giovanni, the title character in Mozart’s Don Giovanni is guaranteed to charm.

Erwin Schrott as the title character in Don Giovanni (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

Erwin Schrott as the title character in Don Giovanni (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

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The Staging of an Opera Company

Minutes before the curtain rose on LA Opera’s 1986 production of Otello, Plácido Domingo stood in the wings, ready to make his entrance in one of his signature roles. He had triumphantly sung Verdi’s tragic hero for audiences around the world, and was widely renowned as the preeminent Otello of his generation. Yet this performance carried a special significance for the tenor. It would be the very first performance in LA Opera’s inaugural season. Full of anticipation, Domingo was eager to showcase to the Los Angeles community, and the greater opera world, what this city could create.

Otello

Plácido Domingo as the title character in Otello (1986)

As conductor Lawrence Foster ushered in the sound of the orchestra to begin the opera, the curtain flew up swiftly. To the surprise of everyone present, the curtain rose halfway and no further. The show went on, and within minutes, the curtain arrived in its designated place, functioning properly for the rest of the stunning premiere.

The curtain’s antics prodded Los Angeles Times music critic Martin Bernheimer to ask, “Los Angeles Opera starts, and the curtain goes halfway up and gets stuck, is that what is going to happen to our opera company?”

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