Portland Opera's Madame Butterfly, February 3, 5m, 9, 11, 2012

When the American naval officer stepped onto that foreign land, he should have known. And if he didn’t, the simple sincerity of Cio-Cio-San’s tender voice should have told him. To be careful. That she would believe his every word. That she was delicate, like … like a butterfly.

 

But he didn’t. And in that suddenly changed world plays out one of the most emotional and unforgettable of all operas.

 

Puccini at his best! Music so powerful, so achingly beautiful, that it has never failed to wring the tears and win the hearts of audiences throughout the world!

 

Sung in Italian with English translations projected above the stage.

Performances held at the Keller Auditorium.

Estimated running time 3 hours, 15 minutes

 

CAST

Cio-Cio-San Kelly Kaduce
Pinkerton Roger Honeywell
Suzuki Kathryn Day
Sharpless John Hancock
Goro Jon Kolbet
Prince Yamadori / Registrar André Chiang
The Bonze Gustav Andreassen
Commissioner Nicholas Nelson
Kate Pinkerton Caitlin Mathes
   
Conductor Anne Manson
Stage Director Christian Smith

 

With members of the Portland Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Japan, early twentieth century

 

ACT I

 

On a flowering terrace above Nagasaki harbor, U.S. Navy Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton inspects the house he has leased from a marriage broker, Goro, who has just procured him three servants and a geisha wife, Cio-Cio-San, known as Madame Butterfly. To the American consul Sharpless, who arrives breathless from climbing the hill, Pinkerton describes the carefree philosophy of a sailor roaming the world in search of pleasure. At the moment, he is enchanted by the fragile geisha Cio-Cio-San. When Sharpless warns that the girl may not take her vows so lightly, Pinkerton brushes aside such scruples, saying he will one day marry a “real” American wife. Cio-Cio-San is heard in the distance joyously singing of her wedding. Entering surrounded by friends, she tells Pinkerton how, when her family fell on hard times, she had to earn her living as a geisha. Her relatives bustle in, noisily expressing their opinions on the marriage. In a quiet moment, Cio-Cio-San shows her bridegroom her few earthly treasures and tells him of her intention to embrace his Christian faith. The Imperial Commissioner performs the wedding ceremony, and the guests toast the couple. The celebration is interrupted by Cio-Cio-San’s uncle, a Buddhist priest, who bursts in, cursing the girl for having renounced her ancestors’ religion. Pinkerton angrily sends the guests away. Alone with Cio-Cio-San in the moonlit garden, he dries her tears, and she joins him in singing of their love.Three years later.

 

ACT II

 

Cio-Cio-San waits for her husband’s return. As her maid Suzuki prays to her gods for aid, her mistress stands by the doorway with her eyes fixed on the harbor. When the maid shows her how little money is left, Cio-Cio-San urges her to have faith. One fine day, she says, Pinkerton’s ship will appear on the horizon. Sharpless brings a letter from the lieutenant, but before he can read it to Cio-Cio-San, Goro comes with a suitor, the wealthy Prince Yamadori. The girl dismisses both marriage broker and prince, insisting her American husband has not deserted her. When they are alone, Sharpless again starts to read the letter and suggests Pinkerton may not return. Cio-Cio-San proudly carries forth her child, Dolore (Sorrow), saying that as soon as Pinkerton knows he has a son he surely will come back. And if he does not, she would rather die than return to her former life. Moved by her devotion, Sharpless leaves, without having revealed the full contents of the letter. Cio-Cio-San, on the point of despair, hears a cannon report. Seizing a spyglass, she discovers Pinkerton’s ship entering the harbor. Now delirious with joy, she orders Suzuki to help her fill the house with flowers. As night falls, Cio-Cio-San, Suzuki and the child begin their vigil. Dawn, the following day.

 

ACT III

 

As dawn breaks, Suzuki insists that Cio-Cio-San rest. Humming a lullaby to her child, she carries him to another room. Before long, Sharpless enters with Pinkerton, followed by Kate, his new wife. When Suzuki realizes who the American woman is, she is fraught with despair but agrees to aid in breaking the news to her mistress. Pinkerton, seized with remorse, bids an anguished farewell to the scene of his former happiness, then rushes away. When Cio-Cio-San comes forth expecting to find him, she finds Kate instead. Guessing the truth, the shattered Cio-Cio-San agrees to give up her child if his father will return for him. Then, sending even Suzuki away, she takes out the dagger with which her father committed suicide and bows before a statue of Buddha, choosing to die with honor rather than live in disgrace. As she raises the blade, Suzuki pushes the child into the room. Sobbing farewell, Cio-Cio-San sends him into the garden to play, then stabs herself. As she dies, Pinkerton is heard calling her name.

—Courtesy of Opera News

THE ORIGINS OF PUCCINI’S MADAME BUTTERFLY

“On the hill opposite ours lived a little tea-house girl; her name was Chô-san, Miss Butterfly. She was so sweet and delicate that everyone was in love with her. In time we learned that she had a lover … quite nice, but very temperamental, of a moody, lonely disposition. One evening there was quite a sensation when it was learned that poor little Chô-san and her baby had been deserted. The man had promised to return at a certain time; had even arranged a signal so that Chô-san would know when his ship had come in; but the little girl-wife awaited that signal in vain. Many an hour and many a long night did she peer from her shoji over the lovely harbor, but to no purpose: He never returned.” —Jennie Correll, as related in 1931

 

For 250 years, the island kingdom of Japan was sealed off from the world beyond her borders. Shipwrecked sailors from foreign lands were imprisoned or killed. Japanese ports were shut tightly to ships seeking to purchase coal or otherwise re-supply. As a result, Japan was considered mysterious and dangerous. But in the 19th century, the United States Navy began to eye Japan strategically. The U.S. had begun stocking their fleet with steamships—steamships that required coal. In the Pacific, Japan was the perfect location for U.S. ships to restock their coal supplies. Additionally, there was the intriguing possibility that, if properly groomed, Japan might develop into an exciting new trading partner.

 

On July 8, 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry steamed into Tokyo Bay on the U.S.S. Pawhatan, flanked by three more black ships. He carried a letter of greeting from the President of the United States. The Japanese had never seen steamboats, nor were they familiar with the vast array of guns these “smoking dragons” carried. Realizing that the kingdom could not risk war with this new power, the Japanese government entered into negotiations with Commodore Perry and on March 31, 1854 signed a treaty with the United States which guaranteed peace and friendship between the two nations, access to the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate, help for shipwrecked Americans, and permission for Americans to purchase supplies from Japan.

 

The opening of Japan was the first trickle in a floodgate of Japanese exoticism surging into the U.S. and Europe. Suddenly the West nurtured a fetishistic fascination for all things Japanese. Art, craft, music and theater all began to reflect this obsession, spurred on by the Centennial World’s Fair, to which the Japanese brought goods specifically designed for Western audiences. For nearly 50 years, the West continued its preoccupation with the mysterious “Orient,” and Puccini could not have helped being influenced by the japonisme of the 19th century. Certainly the libretto for Madame Butterfly is based upon literature heavily influenced by the movement.

 

The opera Madame Butterfly (1904), was based upon a play of the same title by David Belasco, which, in turn is based upon a short story by John Luther Long. Long contended his story was based upon actual events as related to him by his missionary sister, Jennie Correll, who spent years in Nagasaki, and knew not only many of the naval officers who put into port, but the local people, too. In 1931, she published her memoir of the story she told her brother, based on the transcript of a talk she gave earlier the same year. In addition to his sister’s story, Long almost certainly borrows some elements from Pierre Loti’s semi-autobiographical novel, Madame Chrysantheme. The theme of the East meets West romance gone terribly wrong had flourished in the Western imagination since the 1885 publication of Loti’s book, and his description of the temporary “Japanese” marriage engaged in by foreign male visitors to Japan provided a useful basis of understanding for Chô-san’s tragic misunderstanding in Long’s literary version of his sister’s account. Judging by the shockingly intense and violent letters Long received from U.S. Navy officers protesting the book (“savage,” as he described them), even if his plot was not factually true, the situation described by the story was obviously a tad too true for comfort.

 

Cornell professor of music Arthur Groos, in his 1991 article, “Madame Butterfly: The Story,” argues convincingly that the characters in Long’s story, and in Puccini’s subsequent opera, have historical corollaries. Certainly, the practice of “Japanese marriage,” (or “marriage-by-the-month”) existed and was widely documented. Groos’ research places the incidents Mrs. Correll describes between the years of 1892 and 1893, and he found Pinkerton thinly veiled in either a composite of Dr. John S. Sayre and William B. Franklin, or William B. Franklin alone. Groos feels strongly, however, that Pinkerton is separate from Sayre, and is cautiously convinced that dashing, young Ensign William B. Franklin was the “temperamental” lover Jennie Correll described. Chô-san, as many women of her time, has been lost to history, and we know no more of her than Mrs. Correll’s description of her as “sweet and delicate.” Despite the true origins of the story, Long, Belasco and Puccini all added their own literary flourishes. Pinkerton’s American wife is certainly fictional, as is Pinkerton’s return to collect his son. Mrs. Correll states that no one returned for Chô-san or her child, and the most likely fate for them is described by Clara Whitney, a young woman living in Japan in 1875:

 

“Young men here are wicked and depraved and insult the gentle Japanese as often as they can. Merchants—married men— keep native women in their houses as wives without marriage. Sailors are even worse still, and it is pitiful to see the poor little half-caste children running around uncared for, as the Japanese regard them as unclean and their fathers don’t care.”

 

This scenario makes logical Belasco’s conclusion that Chô-san would prefer to commit seppuku and give up her child than shoulder the stigma facing her son in Japanese society.

 

In 1900, Puccini attended a performance of Belasco’s play in London. Despite his limited English, Puccini was entranced by the tragic tale of Chô-san, the naive geisha, and applied to Belasco for the rights. During his wait for permission to proceed, Puccini sent a copy of Long’s short story to his customary librettists, Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa so that they could begin work at once. They structured the opera to include a “prelude” of Butterfly’s wedding not included in the play, and then three acts, the first and third of which were to take place in Butterfly’s “little house on the hill” and the second of which was to occur at the American Consulate in Nagasaki. Illica also favored the Long ending in which Butterfly survives seppuku and raises her own child. Puccini objected (as usual) to both Long's ending (favoring the stark tragedy of the play) and to the structure (removing the consulate act and preferring an hour and a half second act). Puccini’s work was further delayed by a motor car accident which left him badly injured. His recovery was slowed by his diabetes, but he did manage to complete the opera in December 1903. Eventually, Butterfly premiered with an all-star cast in 1904.

 

It was a complete catastrophe.

 

Puccini described it as a lynching. Catcalls, boos and hisses greeted Puccini’s deeply personal work, flaying the delicate story and making ridiculous the cataclysmic undoing of Cio-Cio-San. Such a stupendous shellacking of a Puccini opera seems incredible. He had already had tremendous success with Manon Lescaut, La Bohème and Tosca. The public adored him; the cast was brilliant. How is it possible that Butterfly was such an utter failure? There are undoubtedly several contributing factors: excessive length, excessive anti-Western feeling, excessive audience desire to “put Puccini in his place,” but the most fascinating and delightfully tabloid explanation is sabotage. Though many biographers decline to name the saboteurs, the most logical suspect is Sonzogno, publisher and archrival of Puccini’s publisher, Casa Ricordi. Sonzogno’s entire stable (Leoncavallo, Cilea, Mascagni and Giordano) had produced their best and none had matched Ricordi’s powerhouse, Puccini. In Sonzogno’s eyes, a fourth triumph for Puccini (and consequently, Casa Ricordi) was unacceptable.

 

The horrific experience of that first night forced Puccini to withdraw the score and modify what he considered his masterwork. The opening night debacle and subsequent success in Brescia later that year has led to the succinct, if misleading myth, that this second, revised edition was the final version, the spectacular success that catapulted Butterfly into the foundational canon of contemporary operatic performance practice. Nothing could be further from the truth. Puccini notoriously tinkered with his own works after their initial opening, and he was a savvy man of the theater. Whenever he had the opportunity to be at rehearsals of new productions of his work, he was there, and he often changed the score to suit both the producing organization and himself. With Butterfly, what have been described as distinct versions, because of the order and way in which they were published, were actually the slow evolution of Puccini’s masterpiece. Most remarkable is that most of the changes were cuts, some of which changed the characters and their motivations. Of all the characterizations affected by the cuts, Pinkerton’s was the most profound. The callousness and racism of the original character is efficiently excised by Puccini’s numerous cuts, leaving him looking weak, rather than boorish.

 

Whether the version we are accustomed to watching is Puccini’s definitive one, we Westerners remain transported by Madame Butterfly. Long, Belasco and Puccini have paid far more care to Butterfly’s precarious position than their contemporaries or history have done, and they have given a voice to many voiceless young women throughout history, battered by callousness and cultural indifference. Regardless of whether Madame Butterfly is factually or culturally accurate or not, it speaks to the truth of many broken relationships and lives. It is that truth that ensures that few eyes are dry at the final curtain of Madame Butterfly, and that all but the stoniest hearts break for Butterfly’s “Sorrow.”  

Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)

PucciniSon of composer Michele Puccini and the fifth musician in his line, Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca, Italy on December 22, 1858.   The Puccinis were a fixture in provincial Lucca, having served as organists and choirmasters in St. Martin’s Cathedral for 100 years.  The post was a hereditary one, and the eldest Puccini boy of each generation served the cathedral as a birthright.

At 5 years old, Puccini lost his father.  His musical training fell to his uncle, Fortunato Magi, who did not find him the most apt pupil.  Puccini was often distracted; he skipped school and didn’t practice.  His uncle found he had “neither the ear … nor the calling of a musician.”  But he had an hereditary role to fill and began study with Carlo Angeloni under whom he made great progress.  Before reaching his majority, Puccini played organ for the churches of Lucca and taught music to the town’s children.

By this time, the boy determined that he would make his way in music.  Before he was 18, Puccini entered a music competition with a hymn he had composed in honor of King Victor Emmanuel II.  It was returned to Puccini with comments from the committee chair urging him to study his musical technique.

Far from crushed, young Puccini was still resolved to pursue music and, undaunted by distance and poverty, he walked the 25 miles to Pisa to attend a performance of Verdi’s new masterpiece, AïdaAïda hit the aimless youth like a bolt of lightning.  He would compose operas!  Puccini renewed his musical studies with vigor.  He soon exhausted his opportunities in Lucca and turned his sights to the Milan Conservatory.  He received a study grant from Queen Margaret of Savoy and moved to Milan.

Accepted to the conservatory, Puccini applied himself to his studies diligently enough to earn him the respect of his teachers:  Antonio Bazzini, director of the Conservatory, and Amilcare Ponchielli, composition teacher and successful opera composer in his own right.  These two invited young Puccini to their homes, introduced him to Milan’s musical and literary luminaries, and, most of all, encouraged and challenged him to write music.  

In 1883, at 25, Puccini graduated from the Conservatory.  He had received critical praise for his final project and decided to enter a competition requiring a one-act opera.  Ponchielli put Puccini in touch with Ferdinando Fontana, who had a libretto ready to be set.   The composer liked the story, a fantastic tale of a faithless young man cursed by a coven of women who died abandoned by their lovers.  He set it to music and submitted the finished opera, Le Villi, to the committee.  Unfortunately, when the contest results were announced, no mention of Puccini’s piece was made.  All was not lost, however. Puccini’s one-act found a champion in Giulio Ricordi and premiered in 1884 with a favorable response.

Ricordi had a keen awareness of talent—even talent as raw as the inexperienced Puccini’s—and he wanted to foster the career of this promising youth.  He bought the rights for Le Villi and commissioned another opera from the fledgling composer.  This was quite an opportunity since Ricordi owned one of the great publishing companies and was, in fact, Verdi’s own publisher.  Ricordi’s interest in Puccini flourished and bloomed into a life-long association between the publishing house and composer.

Puccini started work on his new opera, Edgar, but distractions tore him from his work and slowed his composition.  He had met his future wife, Elvira Gemignani.  Unfortunately, she was still married to one of Puccini’s old classmates, and the lovers created a firestorm of controversy when Elvira chose to leave her husband and join Puccini in Milan.

It took four years for Puccini to compose Edgar.  The libretto didn’t speak to Puccini’s peculiar genius for “little souls” in extraordinary situations.  The opera received tepid praise, but Ricordi saw improvement from Le Villi and pressed on with Puccini, commissioning another opera, the subject of which he left to the composer.

Puccini decided upon Manon Lescaut, a risky topic, as it had already been set by Massenet with great success. Still, it touched Puccini, and he opened his version in 1893.  Audience reception was wildly enthusiastic.  Never again was Puccini to garner such accolades.  Manon Lescaut gave him international notoriety and Ricordi’s faith was well-rewarded.

Next came La Bohème, based upon Mürger’s novel, Scènes de la vie de bohème.  Puccini was confident and sure of his dramatic sensibility, causing him to be maddeningly specific with his librettists, Illica and Giacosa.  His specificity paid off.  Bohème was a public triumph.  Critics may have pooh-poohed it, but the public acclaim quickly swept it from theater to theater, country to country and continent to continent.  It remains today, unequivocally, a masterpiece of the operatic stage.

Puccini was on top.  He ventured into verismo with Tosca, a vivid, disturbing, slightly sadistic opera.  The public was enthralled.  Seven curtain calls rocked the theater.  Indeed, Tosca was an unqualified success despite the critics’ harping on the lurid subject matter.

After Tosca came the much-anticipated Madama Butterfly.  Every indication pointed to another victory for the composer, but the premiere garnered laughter during Puccini’s carefully constructed scenes, boos and jeers so raucous as to beg credulity.  Many feel that Puccini’s rivals orchestrated the debacle.  Humbled, Puccini re-worked his Butterfly, the opera he felt to be his masterpiece.  Its second opening fared better than the first.  Audiences roared their approval, giving Puccini twelve curtain calls.  Butterfly was vindicated.

While his professional life was a triumph, Puccini’s personal life kept descending into painful chaos.  His wife, Elvira, continued to have violently jealous outbursts and she accused a maid in their home of seducing her husband.  While Puccini had had myriad infidelities, their maid, Doria Manfredi, was not one of them.  Elvira was adamant, however, and her outspoken accusations and denunciations led to the suicide of the persecuted Doria.  Doria’s family sued Elvira and she was fined and sentenced to prison time.  Puccini managed to avoid this humiliation by settling with the family.  He did so, however, at great personal cost; he fell into a deep despair and his emotional state was such that he could no longer write.

To flee his depression and his harpy wife, Puccini sailed for New York.  Here he saw The Girl of the Golden West, a play by David Belasco, whose earlier work had inspired Madama Butterfly.  Excited by the theatrical possibilities of the Wild West, Puccini approached Ricordi and got an agreement.  The result, La fanciulla del West, was another phenomenal success.  Following this, Puccini wrote La Rondine, which was also praised, but Puccini felt at odds with himself and the piece.  He felt old.  His friend and mentor, Ricordi, had died, and he had a less cordial relationship with Ricordi’s son.  La Rondine felt as if he were repeating himself; World War I had engulfed the planet, and Puccini needed to change.

He devoured other composer’s scores and kept abreast of the new musical language of the 20th century.  He produced Il Trittico, a series of three one-act operas.  The public accepted and liked it, but the critics were unnerved by the maestro’s new vocabulary and remained cool.  The press felt Puccini couldn’t, at 61, write better than Bohème and Butterfly.  Puccini knew better and restlessly cast about for a plot which would allow him to explore his brave new ideas more fully.  He had absorbed Stravinsky, Webern, Berg, Schoenberg, and Debussy.  Finally Turandot presented itself to him and he feverishly began work on what was to become his swan song.

By now, though, Puccini was ill, complaining of throat pain and constant coughing.  Eventually, he was diagnosed with throat cancer.  He was very sick and feverishly working on Turandot’s final duet when he passed away in November 1924 after a debilitating treatment regimen.  The world mourned his passing.  La Scala cancelled performances, and a funeral procession in his honor was attended by thousands.

Puccini’s legacy is the interweaving of music with drama so seamlessly that even as his most elegantly crafted music is played, the drama of the moment supercedes all else.  He is a sublime communicator, reaching audiences across the years and continuing to arrest our hearts with a dramatic perfection wholly accessible and eternal.

 

Anne Manson - Conductor

Previously at Portland Opera: Orphée, 2009

Renowned American conductor Anne Manson wins acclaim around the world for her ability to draw the best performance possible from the players and singers with whom she works, whether they be at the rarified level of the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival, or students just learning their craft in her bi-annual opera engagements at the Juilliard School.

 

Anne Manson - Conductor

Previously at Portland Opera: Orphée, 2009

Renowned American conductor Anne Manson wins acclaim around the world for her ability to draw the best performance possible from the players and singers with whom she works, whether they be at the rarified level of the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival, or students just learning their craft in her bi-annual opera engagements at the Juilliard School.  Reviewers recognize her “exemplary” leadership in crafting performances of both precision and passion.

To read the rest of Anne Manson's biography, visit her website.

 

Christian Smith - Director

Previously at Portland Opera: Madame Butterfly, 2005

Highlights:  Die Fledermaus for televised New York farewell performance of Beverly Sills (New York City Opera).  Directing credits throughout the United States and Canada though primarily for New York City theaters including: Town Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Radio City Music Hall and New York State Theater. 

 

Christian Smith - Director

Previously at Portland Opera: Madame Butterfly, 2005

Highlights:  Die Fledermaus for televised New York farewell performance of Beverly Sills (New York City Opera).  Directing credits throughout the United States and Canada though primarily for New York City theaters including: Town Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Radio City Music Hall and New York State Theater.  His credits also include a popular “Opera Symposium” at Radio City Music Hall and a series of his operettas played Avery Fisher Hall and prominent cities across the country.  As a performer he appeared with New York City Opera and other United States companies and on Broadway in Man of La Mancha and Paradise Island

Christian Smith became involved with the Frank Corsaro Madame Butterfly when he joined the New York City Opera Staging Staff in 1976.  The production had been in the NYCO repertoire and while working with Frank he learned much of the blocking from Maralin Niska and Patricia Craig, the two reigning Butterfly's with the Company at the time.  In his 20 years as Stage Director with New York City Opera, he had the privilege of directing the following ladies who performed Butterfly in this NYCO production:  Sung Sook Lee, Esther Hinds, Awilda Verdejo, Marilyn Zschau, Suzanne Sonnenschein, Judith Haddon, Catherine Lamy, Louisa Jonason, Maria Spacagna, Edith Davis Elizabeth Caron, Marianna Christos, Young Mi Kim, Eva Zseller, Elisabeth Holleque, Marianne Telese, Michele Boucher, Geraldine McMillan, Nikki Li Hartliep, Oksana Krovytska and Judith Anthony and Stephanie Sundine who he prepared as covers.  Smith gleaned nuances from each and every one of these ladies, which he has passed on to the successive Butterfly's.  Smith’s last Butterfly in this production was Shu-Ying Li for the Portland Opera's 04/05 Season.  This will be Smith’s 22nd Butterfly in this production.

 

Kelly Kaduce - Cio-Cio-San
Soprano

Previously at Portland Opera:
Mimi, La Bohème, 2009

Kelly Kaduce is swiftly gaining national recognition for her "plangent, amber-toned soprano, glamour girl looks and artless, affecting dramatic style." (Opera News).

Kelly Kaduce

 

 

Kelly Kaduce - Cio-Cio-San

Soprano

Previously at Portland Opera:
Mimi, La Bohème, 2009

Kelly Kaduce is swiftly gaining national recognition for her "plangent, amber-toned soprano, glamour girl looks and artless, affecting dramatic style." (Opera News).  Ms. Kaduce has garnered thunderous praise for her stage portrayals, most recently for her star-making turn in Lee Blakeley's production of Madama Butterfly at Santa Fe Opera. The Huffington Post called it  "a performance to treasure" and the Santa Fe New Mexican stated "Soprano Kelly Kaduce, as Cio-Cio-San (the "Madame Butterfly" of the title), stood at the head of the cast in every way. Her singing, never less than impressive, assumed mounting intensity as the evening unfurled."

To read the rest of Kelly Kaduce's biography, visit her website.

 

Roger Honeywell photoRoger Honeywell - Pinkerton

Tenor

Previously at Portland Opera:
Soloist in the Big Night Concert

Canadian tenor Roger Honeywell has been acclaimed as a performer “with the right kind of heroic mettle to his voice” (Opera Now).

Roger Honeywell photo

Roger Honeywell - Pinkerton

Tenor

Previously at Portland Opera:
Soloist in the Big Night Concert

Canadian tenor Roger Honeywell has been acclaimed as a performer “with the right kind of heroic mettle to his voice” (Opera Now).  Mr. Honeywell’s exciting 2010/11 season begins with two world premieres; first is the world premiere of Lillian Alling in the role of Jimmy by John Estacio and John Murrell, followed by the world premiere of The Inventor by Bramwell Tovey and John Murell in the role of Smoot. Additional operatic appearances include Narraboth in Salome with the Opéra de Montréal and The Officer, as well as the cover of Bacchus, in Ariadne auf Naxos with the Canadian Opera Company. He can also be heard with the Vancouver Symphony in performances of Verdi’s Requiem.

To read the rest of Roger Honeywell's biography, visit his website.

 

Kathryn Day

Mezzo Soprano

Previously at Portland Opera:
Suzuki, Madame Butterfly, 2005

The Seattle Times lauds Kathryn Day for having “made a great success of the fortuneteller Ulrica in Un ballo in Maschera casting a spell of her own in charismatic singing and acting.”

 

Kathryn Day

Mezzo Soprano

Previously at Portland Opera:
Suzuki, Madame Butterfly, 2005

 

The Seattle Times lauds Kathryn Day for having “made a great success of the fortuneteller Ulrica in Un ballo in Maschera casting a spell of her own in charismatic singing and acting.” In the 2011-12 season, she returns Portland Opera to reprise her performance of Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. She also returns to the Metropolitan Opera for the Maid in Manon as well as the company’s productions of The Makropolous Case and La traviata.

Ms. Day’s relationship with the Metropolitan Opera is longstanding, having previously joined the company for the Respectable Lady in its new production of The Nose, Dritte Dame in Die Zauberflöte, Bolkonsky’s Housemaid in War and Peace, Glasha in Kát'a Kabanová, Suspicious Old Lady in The Gambler, and Annina in La traviata. She has also performed the latter two roles in the company’s famed Met in the Parks concerts as well as has joined the company on its tour of Japan and also for Philip Glass’ Satyagraha, Thais, Die Walküre, Elektra, Lulu, SuorAngelica, and Il trovatore.

A regular guest at the Seattle Opera, she has appeared there as Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera, Ortrud in Lohengrinand Azucena in Il trovatore. Other notable recent performances include Suzuki in Madama Butterflywith L’Opera de Montreal and Portland Opera, Klytämnestra in Elektraand Buryjovka in Jenufawith Long Beach Opera, Azucena in Il trovatorewith the San Diego Opera, La Cieca in La Giocondawith The Collegiate Chorale at Carnegie Hall, Elektrain Caesaria, Israel and the Savonlinna Festival in Finland, and Mrs. Roucher in Dead Man Walkingwith Austin Lyric Opera.

With New Orleans Opera, she sang Herodias in Salome, for which she was heralded as "From the moment she set foot on stage, Kathryn Day’s Herodias was in complete control, both vocally and dramatically" by the New Orleans Times-Picayune. She returned to the company for Jeanne Loiuse de Pontalba in the world premiere production of Pontalba - A Louisiana Legacy. She has also joined the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for Kabanicha in Kát'a Kabanová, Austin Lyric Opera and L’Opera de Montreal for Herodias in Salome, Baltimore Opera for Madelon in Andrea Chenier, Opera Boston for Goody Proctor in The Crucible, and Chautauqua Opera for Mrs. McLean in Susannahand the Old Baroness in Vanessa. The mezzo-soprano also sang the role of the Old Lady in La bella dormente nel boscoat the Spoleto USA Festival and the Lincoln Center Festival in New York.

For more information, visit: http://guybarzilayartists.com/artist.asp?ID=18

 

 

John Hancock - Sharpless

Baritone

Portland Opera Debut
Baritone John Hancock has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera as the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, Albert in Werther, de Brétigny in Manon, and Marcello in La Bohème and with the San Francisco Opera as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly...

John Hancock - Sharpless

Baritone

Portland Opera Debut

Baritone John Hancock has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera as the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, Albert in Werther, de Brétigny in Manon, and Marcello in La Bohème and with the San Francisco Opera as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Prince Yeletsky in Pique Dame, and Lescaut in Manon Lescaut. Throughout his career he has had leading roles with New York City Opera, Washington National Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Atlanta Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, and Florida Grand Opera, among others. Concert engagements have included Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, l'Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, Canadian Opera Orchestr, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, NOS Dutch National Radio Orchestra, the Israeli Chamber Orchestra, and the Orchestra of St. Lukes at Carnegie Hall in New York.


 

 

Jon Kolbet - Goro

Tenor

Previously at Portland Opera: Mr. Upfold in Albert Herring (2008); Giove/Eumete in The Return of Ulysses (2006); Zefirino in The Journey to Reims (2004); Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro and Pang in Turandot (2003); Oreste in La Belle Hélène (2001); Pong in Turandot (1996).

Highlights: Don Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro (Houston Grand Opera, Utah Opera); Howard Boucher in Dead Man Walking...

 

Jon Kolbet

Tenor

Previously at Portland Opera: Mr. Upfold in Albert Herring (2008); Giove/Eumete in The Return of Ulysses (2006); Zefirino in The Journey to Reims (2004); Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro and Pang in Turandot (2003); Oreste in La Belle Hélène (2001); Pong in Turandot (1996).

Highlights:  Don Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro (Houston Grand Opera, Utah Opera); Howard Boucher in Dead Man Walking, Haushofmeister in Ariadne auf Naxos, Schoolmaster/Mosquito in The Cunning Little Vixen, The Simpleton in Boris Godunov, Il Maestro di Ballo in Manon, Lescaut, Monostatos in The Magic Flute (Houston Grand Opera); Red Whiskers in Billy Budd (Washington Opera); Pong in Turandot (Opera Omaha); Don Curzio in The Marriage of Figaro (Los Angeles Opera); Andreas/Spalanzani/Franz/Pitichinaccio in The Tales of Hoffman, Snake/Vain Man in The Little Prince and The Witch in Hansel And Gretel (Tulsa Opera); Tybalt in Roméo Et Juliette, Pong in Turandot (Opera Carolina); Don Curzio in The Marriage of Figaro (Dallas Opera); The Four Servants in The Tales of Hoffman (Fort Worth Opera); Goro in Madama Butterfly (San Francisco Opera, Opera de Montreal, Utah Opera); Seven Deadly Sins (Oregon Symphony).

Upcoming:  A Sheperd in Tristan und Isolde (Houston Grand Opera).

 

 

André Chiang - Yamadori / Registrar

Baritone

Previously at Portland Opera: Soloist in the Big Night Concert

Baritone André Chiang is from Mobile, Alabama. His opera credits include: Sciarrone in Tosca, El Gallo in The Fantasticks, Masetto in Don Giovanni (Shreveport Opera)...

André Chiang - Yamadori / Registrar

Baritone

Previously at Portland Opera: Soloist in the Big Night Concert

Baritone André Chiang is from Mobile, Alabama. His opera credits include: Sciarrone in Tosca, El Gallo in The Fantasticks, Masetto in Don Giovanni (Shreveport Opera); Fouquier-Tinville in Andrea Chénier, Doctor Grenville in La Traviata, A Gypsy in Il Trovatore (Mobile Opera); Registrar in Madame Butterfly (Opera Birmingham); The Count in The Marriage of Figaro, Ctésippe in Pénélope, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus (Manhattan School of Music); Belcor in The Elixir of Love (University of South Alabama); Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, Schaunard in La Bohème (University of Alabama).  He has a Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music and was a member of the Young Artist programs at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Mobile Opera, and Shreveport Opera.  This season, Mr. Chiang will sing Yamadori/Registrar in Madame Butterfly and Young Galileo in Galileo Galilei.

 

 

Gustav Andreassen

Gustav Andreassen - Bonze

Bass

Previously at Portland Opera: 

Colline, La Bohème, 2009

Norwegian-American bass Gustav Andreassen has performed with major opera companies and orchestras throughout North America and Europe, to great acclaim. For his recent portrayal of Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Opera News stated: "The extraordinary potent bass of Gustav Andreassen was all black tone - sonorous, distinctive, with fine musicianship and dramatic flair."

Gustav Andreassen

 

Gustav Andreassen - Bonze

Bass

Previously at Portland Opera: 

Colline, La Bohème, 2009

Norwegian-American bass Gustav Andreassen has performed with major opera companies and orchestras throughout North America and Europe, to great acclaim. For his recent portrayal of Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Opera News stated: "The extraordinary potent bass of Gustav Andreassen was all black tone - sonorous, distinctive, with fine musicianship and dramatic flair."

Gustav Andreassen's 2008/09 season currently includes the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni at Arizona Opera, Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Opéra Atelier (Toronto), sings as soloist in Verdi's Requiem with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, in Mozart's Requiem with the Atlanta Symphony, and in an appearance with the South Dakota Chamber Orchestra in a vocal showcase concert through Sounds of South Dakota. His recent busy summer included appearing in concert as Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin with the National Symphony Orchestra, the roles of Mercury and Ghost of Hector in Berlioz's Les Troyens with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under James Levine at Tanglewood, and performances of Schonberg's Gurre-Lieder at the Aspen Music Festival.

Mr. Andreassen's prolific opera career has included successes at leading opera houses throughout the world. He is a frequent presence at Utah Opera, having performed Daland in Der fliegende Holländer, Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos, and King in Aida; and has sung several roles at Arizona Opera, including Daland, Blitch in Susannah, and Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte. He has performed as Sourin in Pique Dame and as Prince Gremin with San Francisco Opera, Osmin with both Boston Lyric Opera and Glimmerglass Opera, Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Wolf Trap Opera, as well as Commendatore in Don Giovanni with Boston Baroque, Florida Grand Opera, and Cincinnati Opera, among others. Internationally Mr. Andreassen has appeared with Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Hamburgishe Staatsoper, De Vlaamse Opera, and in Lucca, Italy in such roles as Ferrando in Il trovatore, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, and King Philip II in Don Carlos.

An avid concert artist, Mr. Andreassen's extensive list of symphonic engagements include performances of Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 13 with Seattle Symphony under Gerard Schwarz, Bach's Magnificat with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the world premiere of Liszt's St. Stanislaus at the Cincinnati May Festival under James Conlon, and both Messiah and Mozart's Requiem with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared as soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 at the Chautauqua Institution, Beethoven's Mass in C and Choral Fantasy with Omaha Symphony Orchestra, Mozart's Mass in C Minor with Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Verdi's Requiem with Black Hills Symphony, Schubert's Mass in G with Arizona State Chorus, and Mozart's Vesparae Solemnes with Masterworks Chorale of Tucson.

In addition to winning the Heinz Rehfuss Singing-Actor Award at Orlando Opera, Mr. Andreassen received three prestigious awards while a graduate student at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music: the Italo Tajo Award, the Norman Treigle/New York City Opera Award, and the Corbett Award. While an undergraduate at the University of Arizona he was awarded first place in the Amelia Rieman Competition and placed second in the Western Region Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

A native of Oregon, Gustav Andreassen is married to mezzo-soprano Stacey Rishoi.
 

 

Caitlin Mathes - Kate Pinkerton

Mezzo Soprano

Previously at Portland Opera: Soloist in the Big Night Concert (2011)

Mezzo soprano Caitlin Mathes is from Dayville, Connecticut. Her opera credits include: Frog/Hen in The Cunning Little Vixen, Graduate in Street Scene (Chautauqua Opera Theatre)...

Caitlin Mathes

Mezzo Soprano

Previously at Portland Opera: Soloist in the Big Night Concert (2011)

Mezzo soprano Caitlin Mathes is from Dayville, Connecticut. Her opera credits include: Frog/Hen in The Cunning Little Vixen, Graduate in Street Scene (Chautauqua Opera Theatre); Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Theater and Music Festival, Lucca, Italy); Idamante in Idomeneo, La Marchande in Les Mamelles de Tiresias, Ruggiero in Alcina, Lady with a hat box in Postcard from Morocco, Ottavia in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Bianca in Lucrezia Project (College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati); Secretary in The Consul, Dorabella in Così fan tutte (Ithaca College). She was a member of the Young Artist programs at San Francisco Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Chautauqua Opera.  This season Ms. Mathes will sing Kate Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, Maria Maddelena in Galileo Galilei and Paquette in Candide.

Learn more about Caitlin at her website

 

Nicholas Nelson - Commissioner

Bass Baritone

Previously at Portland Opera: Soloist in the Big Night Concert (2011), Don Inigo Gomez in L’Heure Espagnole (2011), Armchair/Tree in L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (2011), Mandarin in Turandot (2011)

Returning Studio Artist, bass baritone Nicholas Nelson delighted audiences as Don Inigo Gomez in L’Heure Espagnole (2011).  He also sang Armchair/Tree in L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and Mandarin in Turandot (2011)...

Nicholas Nelson - Commissioner

Bass Baritone

Previously at Portland Opera: Soloist in the Big Night Concert (2011), Don Inigo Gomez in L’Heure Espagnole (2011), Armchair/Tree in L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (2011), Mandarin in Turandot (2011)

Returning Studio Artist, bass baritone Nicholas Nelson delighted audiences as Don Inigo Gomez in L’Heure Espagnole (2011).  He also sang Armchair/Tree in L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and Mandarin in Turandot (2011).  Originally from Winthrop, Minnesota, Nelson attended the University of Minnesota as a student of Glenda Maurice. During his study, he performed the roles of Colline in La Bohème, Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Seneca in L'incoronazione di Poppea. He has twice won first place in the Schubert Club Scholarship Competition and has appeared in recital several times for the organization. In 2007, Nelson won First Prize at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in the Minnesota District. This season he will sing Commissioner in Madame Butterfly and Pope Urban in Galileo Galilei.

 

 


Madame Butterfly Patron Perspectives


Madame Butterfly Sneak Peek


Madame Butterfly on OPB


Madame Butterfly Opera Insights

Portland Opera's Resident Historian and Lecturer Robert Kingston discusses the history and background of Madame Butterfly in this two-part video.

You can also enjoy these "Opera Insights" lectures live at the Keller Auditorium before you see the show. "Opera Insights" are free to all ticket holders and take place in the first balcony one hour prior to each performance.


Madame Butterfly Q&A

Portland Opera's General Director Christopher Mattaliano discusses Madame Butterfly with Kelly Kaduce.

Listen to the Music

Christopher Mattaliano introduces "Madame Butterfly"

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Vogliatemi Bene, Un Bene Piccolino

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Un Bel Di Vedremo

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Io So Che Alle Sue Pene

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Guarda ben

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Musical excerpts used courtesy of Angel Records/EMI Classics.

Schedule

Feb 3, 2012
Friday 7:30 pm
Feb 5, 2012
Sunday 2:00 pm
Feb 9, 2012
Thursday 7:30 pm
Feb 11, 2012
Saturday 7:30 pm