Sunday, May 28, 2017
The transitioning tenor Rolando Villazon – more director these days than singer – has pulled out of this weekend’s Metropolitan Opera gala, effectively signing off as one of the company’s frontline artists. Villazon, 45, won’t be terribly missed. Here’s the current list of participants in Sunday’s $950+ per ticket show: Marco Armiliato Piotr Beczała Ben Bliss Stephanie Blythe Joseph Calleja Javier Camarena Dwayne Croft Diana Damrau David Daniels Joyce DiDonato Plácido Domingo Yusif Eyvazov Michael Fabiano Renée Fleming Juan Diego Flórez Elīna Garanča Susan Graham Vittorio Grigolo Günther Groissböck Christopher Job Mariusz Kwiecien Isabel Leonard James Levine Željko Lučić Angela Meade Latonia Moore James Morris Anna Netrebko Kristine Opolais Eric Owens René Pape Matthew Polenzani Yannick Nézet-Séguin Rolando Villazón Michael Volle Yunpeng Wang Pretty Yende Sonya Yoncheva Dolora Zajick Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus
From the Lebrecht Album of the Week: Never a big Easter bunny, I generally receive the springtime festival releases with the same excitement as I’d feel about a Placido Domingo Christmas record. What comes round, comes round. This one, however, is pure class… Read on here .
The Royal Opera House 2017/2018 season details are out, a wise blend of old and new. It's very much a Pappano season. Some years back, Pappano was delegated repertoire which he does best, and revivals. Now he's conducting all the prizes with little competition, save for Andris Nelsons in a new production of Lohengrin in June/July 2018. Nelson's Lohengrin at Bayreuth was exceptionally inspired, so no way would ROH miss out on a package that includes Klaus Florian Vogt, Kristine Opolais and Christine Goerke: a dream team. Jakub Hrůša will be conducting a new Carmen, and Marc Minkowski, Michele Mariotti and Christian Curnyn will be conducting specialist repertoire. Placido Domingo is conducting a few performances of Tosca, but that's for the fans. The new Director of Opera, Oliver Mears, can't match Pappano's prestige and experience. Since he's only been in the job a month, and seasons are planned years in advance, this is most certainly not "his" season. Pappano's position at ROH is now supreme. The new seasons starts on 11/9 with a production of La bohème in a new staging by Richard Jones with several different casts, with some very good names among them. Megastars in the new Rossini Semiramide, 19/11 to 16/12 - Joyce DiDonato, Ildebrando d'Arcangelo, and Daniella Barcellona. Seriously classy! This will almost certainly sell out fast, and deservedly so. A new Bizet Carmen, at last, and thank goodness, 6/2-16/3/18. Good casts, though the budget probably went for Barrie Kosky, whose thing for cheery surfaces makes prurience palatable to audiences who go mad when sex is taken seriously. No chance of that in Krzysztof Warlikowski's staging of Janáček's From the House of the Dead (7-24/3/18) , with a decent cast, but a conductor whose work so far is unidiomatic whatever he conducts but who is heavily promoted by Sony. So many strong reasons why Lohengrin (7/6 -1/718) could be the highlight of the season - brilliant cast and conductor - and a new production by David Alden. George Benjamin's Lessons in Love and Violence receives its world premiere (10-26/5/18) conducted by Benjamin himself. As with Written on Skin, the libretto is by Martin Crimp and the staging by Katie Mitchell. The cast includes Barbara Hannigan and Stéphane Degout. Outside the main house, the ROH will also be presenting the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Coralline at the Barbican Theatre and a work so new it doesn't yet have a name, by Tansy Davies. At the Roundhouse, (10-21/1/18) a new production of Monteverdi The Return of Ulysses, conducted by Christian Curnyn and staged by John Fulljames with a very good cast - Roderick Williams, Christine Rice, Susan Bickley, Samuel Boden, Andrew Tortise and Stuart Jackson. This year's ROH concert performance will be presented by Opera Rara: Donizetti, L'Ange de Nisida conducted by Mark Elder with Joyce El-Khoury heading the cast. Kasper Holton has left the Royal Opera House at the end of his contract, but his five-year tenure has left a positive legacy. The greater emphasis on new works and new venues, for example, but also the core repertoire he directed. The vindictive hysteria of the booing mob hijacked attention, poisoning any chance of rational analysis. In the new Zeitgeist, be it politics or art, the mob knows everything and all else must be suppressed. But opera is art, and art means learning. Without learning, civilization die.s Perhaps common sense will prevail. Damiano Michieletto's Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci is back (29/11-13/1/18). Please read my review of the premiere HERE. It's extremely good and well thought through, though the raging mob, still inflamed by seeing two seconds of tit in Guillaume Tell might have been too worked up to notice. Seeing that Cav and Pag again will be one of my priorities: highly recommended. I also want to attend Les Vêpres siciliennes again. Bryan Hymel! Like so much in Verdi, the plot predicates on concealment : things aren't supposed to be blatantly obvious. Please read my review of that premiere HERE. I'm also going to Holten's Don Giovanni (29/6-17/7/18) because it's a production that deals extremely well with the ideas of sudden change and illusion that make Mozart's opera so richly rewarding. So Holten used modern technology instead of painted flats? Someone told me he couldn't keep up with the action. Perhaps he didn't really know the opera. Please read my review of the premiere HERE.
Antonio Pappano © Sim Canetty-Clarke/ROH 2011 Details of The Royal Opera's 2017/18 Season have been announced. The full production list is as follows: La bohème NEW PRODUCTION 11 September–10 October 2017, 16 June–20 July 2018 (Live in cinemas 3 October 2017) Music: Giacomo Puccini Director: Richard Jones Conductors: Antonio Pappano / Paul Wynne Griffiths / Nicola Luisotti Richard Jones directs a new production of Puccini’s passionate opera of love and death in 19th-century Paris. Mimì – Nicole Car / Simona Mihai / Maria Agresta / Ekaterina Siurina Rodolfo – Michael Fabiano / Benjamin Bernheim / Matthew Polenzani / Atalla Ayan Marcello – Mariusz Kwiecień / Alessio Arduini / Andrei Bondarenko Musetta – Nadine Sierra / Danielle de Niese / Vlada Borovko Schaunard – Florian Sempey / Gyula Nagy / Duncan Rock / Rodion Pogossov Colline – Luca Tittoto / Fernando Javier Radó / In Sung Sim Benoît – Jeremy White Alcindoro – Wyn Pencarreg Die Zauberflöte 12 September—14 October 2017 (Live in cinemas 20 September 2017) Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Director: David McVicar Conductors: Julia Jones / Richard Hetherington Julia Jones conducts The Royal Opera’s gorgeous production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute with two wonderful casts including Roderick Williams as Papageno and Janai Brugger as Pamina. Pamina – Siobhan Stagg / Janai Brugger Tamino – Mauro Peter / Tuomas Katajala Papageno – Roderick Williams / Florian Sempey Sarastro – Mika Kares / In Sung Sim Queen of the Night – Sabine Devieilhe / Christina Poulitsi First Lady – Rebecca Evans / Jennifer Davis Second Lady – Angela Simkin Third Lady – Susan Platts / Gaynor Keeble Monostatos – Peter Bronder / Peter Hoare Papagena – Christina Gansch / Haegee Lee Speaker of the Temple – Sebastian Holecek / Darren Jeffery Les Vêpres siciliennes 12 October–4 November 2017 Music: Giuseppe Verdi Director: Stefan Herheim Conductor: Maurizio Benini Verdi’s spectacular grand opera is conducted by Maurizio Benini with a cast including Malin Byström and Rachele Stanisci, Bryan Hymel, Michael Volle and Erwin Schrott. Hélène – Malin Byström / Rachele Stanisci Henri – Bryan Hymel Jean Procida – Erwin Schrott Guy de Montfort – Michael Volle Ninetta – Michelle Daly Daniéli – Nico Darmanin Thibault – Neal Cooper Robert – Jihoon Kim Mainfroid – Samuel Sakker Le Sire de Béthune – Simon Shibambu Le Comte de Vaudemont – Jeremy White Lucia di Lammermoor 30 October–27 November 2017 Music: Gaetano Donizetti Director: Katie Mitchell Conductor: Michele Mariotti Donizetti’s opera of a woman forced to breaking point is conducted by Michele Mariotti with a cast including Lisette Oropesa, Charles Castronovo and Christopher Maltman, in Katie Mitchell’s powerful production. Lucia – Lisette Oropesa Edgardo – Charles Castronovo / Ismael Jordi Enrico Ashton – Christopher Maltman Raimondo Bidebent – Michele Pertusi Normanno – Andrew Tortise Arturo Bucklaw – Konu Kim Alisa – Rachael Lloyd La Tragédie de Carmen NEW PRODUCTION 3–14 November 2017 (Wilton’s Music Hall) Music: Georges Bizet Director: Gerard Jones Conductor: James Hendry The youthful stars of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme perform Peter Brook’s radical reworking of Georges Bizet’s opera in the intimate setting of Wilton’s Music Hall. Carmen – Aigul Akhmetshina Don José – Thomas Atkins Escamillo – Gyula Nagy Micaela – Francesca Chiejina Semiramide NEW PRODUCTION 19 November—16 December 2017 Music: Gioachino Rossini Director: David Alden Conductors: Antonio Pappano / Christopher Willis Antonio Pappano conducts Rossini’s epic tragedy with a cast including Joyce DiDonato, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, Daniela Barcellona and Lawrence Brownlee in a new production by David Alden. Semiramide – Joyce DiDonato Assur – Ildebrando D'Arcangelo Arsace – Daniela Barcellona Idreno – Lawrence Brownlee Azema – Jacquelyn Stucker Oroe – Bálint Szabó Mitrane – Konu Kim Nino's Ghost – Simon Shibambu Cavalleria rusticana / Pagliacci 29 November 2017—13 January 2018 Music: Pietro Mascagni / Ruggero Leoncavallo Director: Damiano Michieletto Conductor: Daniel Oren Catch this classic double bill of Italian opera in The Royal Opera’s Olivier Award-winning production, with Daniel Oren conducting two excellent casts. Santuzza – Elīna Garanča / Anna Pirozzi Turiddu – Bryan Hymel Mamma Lucia – Elena Zilio Alfio – Dimitri Platanias Lola – Martina Belli Canio – Fabio Sartori Tonio – Simon Keenlyside / Roberto Frontali Nedda – Carmen Giannattasio / Simona Mihai Silvio – Andrzej Filończyk / Samuel Dale Johnson Beppe – Luis Gomes Rigoletto 14 December 2017—16 January 2018 (Live in cinemas 16 January 2018) Music: Giuseppe Verdi Director: David McVicar Conductor: Alexander Joel Alexander Joel conducts two excellent casts led by Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Dimitri Platanias in David McVicar’s acclaimed production of Verdi’s potent and tragic opera. Duke of Mantua – Michael Fabiano / Ivan Magrì Rigoletto – Dmitri Hvorostovsky / Dimitri Platanias Gilda – Sofia Fomina / Lucy Crowe Sparafucile – Andrea Mastroni Maddalena – Nadia Krasteva Giovanna – Sarah Pring / Kathleen Wilkinson Count Monterone – James Rutherford / Darren Jeffery Marullo – Dominic Sedgwick Matteo Borsa – Thomas Atkins Count Ceprano – Simon Shibambu Countess Ceprano – Francesca Chiejina / Jacquelyn Stucker Salome 8–30 January 2018 Music: Richard Strauss Director: David McVicar Conductor: Henrik Nánási Malin Byström takes on the title role in Richard Strauss’s searing opera, as featured in the V&A exhibition Opera: Passion, Power and Politics. Salome – Malin Byström Jokanaan – Michael Volle Herod – John Daszak Herodias – Michaela Schuster Narraboth – David Butt Philip Page of Herodias – Christina Bock First Jew – Dietmar Kerschbaum Second Jew – Thomas Atkins Third Jew – Hubert Francis Fourth Jew – Konu Kim Fifth Jew – Jeremy White First Soldier – Levente Páll Second Soldier – Alan Ewing First Nazarene – Kihwan Sim Second Nazarene – Dominic Sedgwick Cappadocian – John Cunningham The Return of Ulysses NEW PRODUCTION 10–21 January 2018 (Roundhouse) Music: Claudio Monteverdi Director: John Fulljames Conductor: Christian Curnyn The Royal Opera returns to the Roundhouse with Monteverdi’s great late work, in a new production directed by John Fulljames starring Christine Rice and Roderick Williams, sung in English. Ulysses – Roderick Williams Penelope – Christine Rice Telemachus – Samuel Boden Minerva – Catherine Carby Eurycleia – Susan Bickley Melantho – Francesca Chiejina Eurymachus – Andrew Tortise Eumaeus – Mark Milhofer Irus – Stuart Jackson Amphinomus – Nick Pritchard Peisander – Tai Oney Antinous – David Shipley Tosca 15 January—3 March 2018 (Live in cinemas 7 February 2018) Music: Giacomo Puccini Director: Jonathan Kent Conductors: Dan Ettinger / Plácido Domingo Three casts, led by Adrianne Pieczonka, Angela Gheorghiu and Martina Serafin and conducted by Dan Ettinger and Plácido Domingo, star in The Royal Opera’s production of Puccini’s thriller. Floria Tosca – Adrianne Pieczonka / Angela Gheorghiu / Martina Serafin Mario Cavaradossi – Joseph Calleja / Riccardo Massi / Massimo Giordano Baron Scarpia – Gerald Finley / Marco Vratogna Spoletta – Aled Hall / Hubert Francis Cesare Angelotti – Simon Shibambu Sacristan – Jeremy White Sciarrone – Jihoon Kim Carmen NEW PRODUCTION 6 February—16 March 2018 (Live in cinemas 6 March 2018) Music: Georges Bizet Director: Barrie Kosky Conductors: Jakub Hrůša / Christopher Willis Barrie Kosky directs Bizet’s much-loved opera, with Jakub Hrůša and Christopher Willis conducting two casts led by Anna Goryachova and Gaëlle Arquez in the title role. Carmen – Anna Goryachova / Gaëlle Arquez Don José – Francesco Meli / Andrea Carè Escamillo – Kostas Smoriginas / Alexey Markov Micaëla – Anett Fritsch / Susanna Hurrell Zuniga – David Soar / David Shipley Frasquita – Jacquelyn Stucker / Haegee Lee Mercédès – Angela Simkin / Aigul Akhmetshina Le Dancaïre – Pierre Doyen Moralès – Gyula Nagy / Dominic Sedgwick Le Remendado – Jean-Paul Fouchécourt From the House of the Dead NEW PRODUCTION 7–24 March 2018 Music: Leoš Janáček Director: Krzysztof Warlikowski Conductor: Teodor Currentzis Janáček’s final work receives its Royal Opera premiere in a new production directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski, with Teodor Currentzis conducting an excellent cast including Johan Reuter and Willard W. White. Alexandr Petrovic Gorjancikov – Willard W. White Aljeja – Pascal Charbonneau Luka Kuzmic – Štefan Margita Skuratov – Ladislav Elgr Šiškov/Priest – Johan Reuter Prison Governor – Alexander Vassiliev Big Prisoner/Nikita – Nicky Spence Small Prisoner/Cook/Cekunov – Grant Doyle Elderly Prisoner – Graham Clark Voice – Konu Kim Drunk Prisoner – Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts Šapkin – Peter Hoare Prisoner/Kedril – John Graham-Hall Prisoner/Don Juan/Brahmin – Aleš Jenis Young Prisoner – Florian Hoffmann Prostitute – Rinat Shaham Cerevin – Alexander Kravets Macbeth 25 March—10 April 2018 (Live in cinemas 4 April 2018) Music: Giuseppe Verdi Director: Phyllida Lloyd Conductor: Antonio Pappano Antonio Pappano conducts Verdi’s opera on Shakespeare’s tragedy, with a magnificent cast including Anna Netrebko and Anna Pirozzi, Željko Lučić and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo. Macbeth – Željko Lučić Lady Macbeth – Anna Netrebko / Anna Pirozzi Banquo – Ildebrando D'Arcangelo Macduff – Yusif Eyvazov / David Junghoon Kim Lady-in-waiting – Francesca Chiejina Malcolm – Konu Kim Doctor – Simon Shibambu Coraline WORLD PREMIERE 27 March—7 April 2018 (Barbican Theatre) Music: Mark-Anthony Turnage Director: Aletta Collins The world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera based on Neil Gaiman’s much-loved story, in a production at the Barbican directed by Aletta Collins. 4.48 Psychosis Dates TBC Music: Philip Venables Director: Ted Huffman Philip Venables’s award-winning opera is inspired by Sarah Kane’s extraordinary final play. Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk 12–27 April 2018 Music: Dmitry Shostakovich Director: Richard Jones Conductor: Antonio Pappano Richard Jones’s critically acclaimed production returns after more than a decade, with Antonio Pappano conducting a cast led by Eva-Maria Westbroek in Shostakovich’s masterpiece. Katerina Ismailova – Eva-Maria Westbroek Sergey – Brandon Jovanovich Boris Ismailov – John Tomlinson Zinovy Ismailov – John Daszak Sonyetka – Aigul Akhmetshina Aksinya – Rosie Aldridge Shabby Peasant – Peter Bronder Priest – Wojtek Gierlach Police Inspector – Mikhail Svetlov Teacher – Thomas Atkins Old Convict – Paata Burchuladze Female Convict – Miranda Keys Sentry – Simon Shibambu Coachman/Second Workman – Hubert Francis Lessons in Love and Violence WORLD PREMIERE 10–26 May 2018 Music: George Benjamin Director: Katie Mitchell Conductor: George Benjamin George Benjamin conducts the world premiere of his new collaboration with Martin Crimp – a hotly anticipated work from the creators of Written on Skin, with an excellent, hand-picked cast. Samuel Boden Stéphane Degout Jennifer France Barbara Hannigan Peter Hoare Gyula Orendt Andri Björn Róbertsson Krisztina Szabó Tansy Davies and Nick Drake WORLD PREMIERE June 2018 (Printworks) Music: Tansy Davies Director: Lucy Bailey The latest opera from composer Tansy Davies and librettist Nick Drake, the award-winning team behind Between Worlds. Mamzer Bastard WORLD PREMIERE June 2018 Music: Na'ama Zisser The Royal Opera presents the world premiere of a new work by exciting young composer Na’ama Zisser, in a soundworld that thrillingly unites contemporary idioms with the music of Orthodox Hasidic Judaism. Lohengrin NEW PRODUCTION 7 June—1 July 2018 Music: Richard Wagner Director: David Alden Conductor: Andris Nelsons Wagner’s great romantic opera is conducted by Andris Nelsons with a cast including Klaus Florian Vogt, Kristine Opolais and Christine Goerke in a new production directed by David Alden. Lohengrin – Klaus Florian Vogt Elsa von Brabant – Kristine Opolais Ortrud – Christine Goerke Friedrich von Telramund – Thomas J. Mayer Heinrich I – Georg Zeppenfeld Herald – Kostas Smoriginas First Noble of Brabant – Konu Kim Second Noble of Brabant – Thomas Atkins Third Noble of Brabant – Gyula Nagy Fourth Noble of Brabant – Simon Shibambu Don Giovanni 29 June—17 July 2018 Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Director: Kasper Holten Conductor: Marc Minkowski In Mozart’s dazzling tragicomic opera, Marc Minkowski conducts a world-class cast led by Mariusz Kwiecień with Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, Rachel Willis-Sørensen, Pavol Breslik and Hrachuhi Bassenz. Don Giovanni – Mariusz Kwiecień Leporello – Ildebrando D'Arcangelo Donna Anna – Rachel Willis-Sørensen Don Ottavio – Pavol Breslik Donna Elvira – Hrachuhi Bassenz Zerlina – Chen Reiss Masetto – Anatoli Sivko The Commendatore – Willard W. White Falstaff 7–21 July 2018 Music: Giuseppe Verdi Director: Robert Carsen Conductor: Nicola Luisotti Robert Carsen’s production of Verdi’s masterful comic opera is filled with wit, humour and sheer joie de vivre. Sir John Falstaff – Bryn Terfel Alice Ford – Ana María Martínez Ford – Simon Keenlyside Nannetta – Anna Prohaska Fenton – Frédéric Antoun Mistress Quickly – Marie-Nicole Lemieux Meg Page – Pamela Helen Stephen Dr Caius – Carlo Bosi Bardolfo – Michael Colvin Pistol – Craig Colclough Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance 2018 15 July 2018 The Jette Parker Young Artists return to the main stage in their annual summer performance. L'Ange de Nisida in concert 18–21 July 2018 Music: Gaetano Donizetti Conductor: Mark Elder Opera Rara gives the world premiere of Donizetti’s opera – some of which is familiar from La Favorite – in a concert performance starring Joyce El-Khoury and conducted by Mark Elder. Sylvia – Joyce El-Khoury Leone de Casaldi – David Junghoon Kim King Fernand of Naples – Ludovic Tézier Don Gaspar – Laurent Naouri Monk – Evgeny Stavinsky What are you most looking forward to in the 2017/18 Season? Let us know in the comments below or using the #ROH201718 hashtag on Twitter.
He was supposed to conduct the opening performance of a spectacular Aida in Vienna’s Allianz Stadium this June, ahead of a world tour. The previews spoke of 800 performers, live horses and lots of slaves. But the stage technology is not working so the show has been postponed to June 2018. Just in time for the World Cup.
Ermonela Jaho and Elizabeth de Shong in Madama Butterfly © ROH 2017. Photograph by Bill Cooper ‘Un bel dì vedremo’ (One fine day) is an aria from Giacomo Puccini ’s 1904 opera Madama Butterfly , sung by the title character, Cio-Cio-San. It has become one of the best-known movements from the opera, with audiences entranced not only by its beautiful melody but also by its heartbreaking encapsulation of the tragedy at the opera’s heart. Where and when does it take place? ‘Un bel dì vedremo’ takes place in Act II of Madama Butterfly. In the first act, the 15-year-old Japanese geisha Cio-Cio-San marries the American naval officer Lieutenant Pinkerton while he visits Nagasaki. Pinkerton views their marriage as just a way to have a good time, but for Cio-Cio-San it is a deeply serious act – so much so that she converts to Christianity, offending her family who disown her. By ‘Un bel dì vedremo’, three years have passed since the wedding. Pinkerton left shortly after the marriage and has not returned. Cio-Cio-San lives in his house with their young son, and her maid Suzuki. Their money is running out and everyone urges Cio-Cio-San to forget Pinkerton and make a new marriage. But she firmly believes that he will return, and in ‘Un bel dì vedremo’ imagines that happy day. Meanwhile, Suzuki weeps. What do the words mean? Read our line-by-line translation of librettists Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica ’s original Italian text, created in 2003 by Royal Opera House surtitler Kenneth Chalmers: ‘Un bel dì vedromo’ Un bel dì vedremo levarsi un fil di fumo sull’estremo confin del mare. E poi la nave appare poi la nave bianca entra nel porto, romba il suo saluto. Vedi? È venuto! Io non gli scendo incontro. Io no. Mi metto là sul ciglio del colle e aspetto, e aspetto gran tempo e non mi pesa la lunga attesa. E uscito dalla folla cittadina un uom, un picciol punto s’avvia per la collina. Chi sarà? chi sarà? E come sarà giunto Che dirà? che dirà? Chiamerà ‘Butterfly!’ dalla lontana. Io senza dar risposta me ne starò nascosta, un po’ per celia e un po’ per non morir al primo incontro, ed egli alquanto in pena chiamerà, chiamerà: ‘Piccina mogliettina, olezzo di verbena!’ i nomi che mi dava al suo venire. Tutto questo avverrà, te lo prometto. Tienti la tua paura, io con sicura fede l’aspetto. One fine day we’ll see a thread of smoke out on the horizon, and then the ship will appear. The white ship will sail into port. It will fire its cannon Can you see? He’s back! I don’t go down to meet him. I stand on the brow of the hill, and wait And the long wait means nothing. Out of the bustling town comes a man, a tiny dot, heading for the hill Who can it be? And when he arrives, what will he say? He’ll call ‘Butterfly!’ from afar. I’ll say nothing, but stay hidden. Partly to tease, and partly so as not to die when we first meet again. He’ll be a little overcome, and call, ‘Little wife, verbena blossom!’ The names he used to call me when he was here. This will all come true, I promise you. Keep your fear to yourself. With a faith that can’t be shaken I'm waiting for him. See the full score on IMSLP here (from p.230). What makes the music so memorable? In this wonderful aria Puccini exploits music’s power to represent several different mental states at once: he vividly depicts Cio-Cio-San’s strength, while also telling us with heartbreaking certainty of her inevitable tragedy. Cio-Cio-San sounds vulnerable in her opening phrase, but it demands great vocal control from the soprano. The opening melody’s rhythmic simplicity and its shimmering orchestral accompaniment create the sense of a lovingly savoured dream – although one tinged with melancholy in the predominantly minor harmony. This theme returns with appalling power at two later points in the aria: first as Cio-Cio-San sings the word ‘morir’ (die), accompanied by the full orchestra playing ‘tutta forza’ (with all force). Almost before we can recover it returns again, again fortissimo, Cio-Cio-San this time rising to her highest note in the aria on the word ‘aspetto’ (I wait). The orchestra’s strong close firmly evokes Cio-Cio-San’s certain hope – while twisting the knife in our hearts. Madama Butterfly’s other musical highlights Where to start? Madama Butterfly is one of the most famous works in the opera canon, for good reason. Puccini returns to numerous melodies throughout the opera, giving the work both musical unity and dramatic inevitability; for example, the primary melody from ‘Un bel dì vedremo’ returns with powerful force when Butterfly sees Pinkerton’s ship sail into Nagasaki harbour. The famous Humming Chorus that follows shortly after is a remarkable, wordless evocation of Cio-Cio-San’s invincible patience as she waits, futilely, for Pinkerton to come to her. Their great Act I duet ‘Viene la sera’ (Night is falling), as well as being one of Puccini’s longest and most beautifully written, is crucial in establishing the basis of Butterfly’s love. Equally important is her relationship with her family, terrifyingly captured in the wedding ceremony, with music drawing on authentic Japanese melodies . Classic recordings Over the past decades there has been no shortage of great sopranos who bring their voices and their souls to this role, finding different ways to interpret Butterfly’s vulnerability and strength. Classic recordings include Victoria de los Angeles ’s at the Royal Opera House with Rudolf Kempe in 1957 ; Renata Scotto ’s with John Barbirolli in 1966 ; or Renata Tebaldi ’s with Tullio Serafin in 1958 . Mirella Freni appears on two iconic recordings, with Luciano Pavarotti and Herbert von Karajan in 1974 , and in the famous filmed version from the same year, again with Karajan and this time opposite Plácido Domingo . Of recent years the most famous audio recording must be Angela Gheorghiu ’s with Jonas Kaufmann and Antonio Pappano from 2009. The many DVD recordings include Anthony Minghella ’s wonderful production for English National Opera , filmed at the Metropolitan Opera, New York , in 2009 with Patricia Racette and Patrick Summers . More to discover Cio-Cio-San is perhaps the primary example of the noble, self-sacrificing heroine who is such a familiar figure in opera’s history. There are several in the Puccini canon, who all have wonderful key arias: Mimì from La bohème with ‘Mi chiamano Mimì’; the fiery Tosca and her ‘Vissi d’arte’; Suor Angelica ’s ‘Senza mamma’; Liù from Turandot with ‘Tu che di gel sei cinta’. It’s a thread that runs through 19th-century Italian opera, with just a handful of the many wonderful roles including Verdi ’s Violetta from La traviata and Gilda from Rigoletto , Bellini ’s Norma , Donizetti ’s Lucia di Lammermoor and Rossini ’s Elena from La donna del lago . But Butterfly is very much a work from the turn of the 20th century, with the near contemporaneous Pelléas et Mélisande by Debussy in many ways a close cousin, particularly in its use of harmony. Madama Butterfly runs until 25 April 2017. Tickets are sold out, but 49 tickets for each performance will be released the week before as part of Friday Rush . The production is broadcast live to cinemas around the world on 30 March 2017. Find your nearest cinema. The production is a co-production with Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona , and is given with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Susan A. Olde OBE, Aud Jebsen, Spindrift Al Swaidi and The Maestro’s Circle .
Great opera singers