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OPINION: ‘Madame Butterfly’ classic now at Pittsburgh Opera

March 28, 2013
By GEORGE CREEGAN - Opera critic for Weekender , The Herald-Star

PITTSBURGH - Here's a little about the story of "Madame Butterfly," recently staged by the Pittsburgh Opera.

Lt. Pinkerton arrives in Japan on the U.S. warship Abraham Lincoln. He leases a house from a marriage broker along with three servants and a geisha wife, Madame Butterfly. He describes his carefree philosophy of a sailor roaming the world to the American consul, who is named Sharpless.When Sharpless explains that the girl may not take her vows so lightly, Pinkerton says he will one day marry a "real" American wife. Pinkerton and Madame Butterfly begin their life together ... and he soon ships out.

Three years later Madame Butterfly is still waiting for Pinkerton. A letter comes from Pinkerton, but before it can be read to her, his ship arrives. She waits to tell him of their son. He arrives with his American wife, Kate. Madame Butterfly agrees to send her son with Pinkerton and Kate and she commits suicide choosing to die with honor instead of living in disgrace.

The audience welcomed a debut performance by New Orleans native Bryan Hymel, a superb dramatic tenor who sang and acted as B.F. Pinkerton. He recently appeared at London's Royal Opera House in "Robert le Diable" ("Robert the Devil") and at the Philadelphia Opera in "La Boheme." He also made a last minute Metropolitan Opera House appearance as Enee in "Les Troyens." He is continuing his current season with the Jerusalem Symphony and a European tour of La Damnation de Faust with the Orchestre National de Capitole, Toulouse, as well as debuts at Opera Dresden in Der Rosenkavalier and Salzburg Festival as Archangel Michael/ Jeanne d' Asrc.

Another newcomer to the Pittsburgh Opera stage was Maria Luigia Borsi as Cio-Cio San. A native of Sora, Italy, she trained at the Pietro Mascagni Music Institute in Livorno under the guidance of Lucia Stanescu. Some of her other instructors were Renata Scotto and Antoinetta Stella. Borsi debuted in the role of Cio-Cio San/Madame Butterfly at the Royal Danish Opera. In 2004 she performed the role of Liu/Turandot at the LaScala Theatre, and the same year she made her debut at La Fenice as Violetta. Latraviata and performed at many other important opera houses in Barcelona, Japan, Berlin and Munich to name a few.

Mika Shigematsu debuted as Suzuki with the Pittsburgh Opera's "Madame Butterfly." Many of her past engagements include Rosina/Il barbiere de Siviglia for the Boston Lyric Opera, the San Francisco Opera, New National Theatre, Tokyo and Canadian Opera Company.

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