Valerie Hamlin, CCO Publicist/Associate Director of Marketing, 303-292-6500, ext. 108, vhamlin@centralcityopera.org
June 14, 2010


JUNE 26 – AUG. 7

*=Central City Opera Debut

Denver , Colo. – Central City Opera (CCO) opens its 2010 Festival with the ever-popular story of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. The classic tale of one woman betrayed by love and her ultimate sacrifice starts on June 26, with performances continuing through Aug. 7. The opera will be performed in Italian with English supertitles.

A story of love, honor and betrayal, Madama Butterfly is set in early 20th century Japan. It follows the marriage of a naïve geisha, Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly), and her aloof husband, Naval Officer Lt. Pinkerton. The lush musical score incorporates Japanese themes and includes such favorite arias as “Un bel di vedremo.” Puccini’s opera with text by Giacosa and Illica was a fiasco upon its premiere at La Scala in Milan on Feb. 17, 1904. A revision in May of 1904 led to its status that continues today as one of the most beloved pieces in the operatic genre.

Madama Butterfly is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire for companies around the world. In fact, Opera America ranks Madama Butterfly as number one on its list of the 20 most-performed operas in North America. Puccini was inspired to compose his opera after seeing David Belasco’s play Madame Butterfly, in London, which was adapted from a short story by John Luther Long. The story tells the factual recollections of his sister, Jennie Correll, who had been to Japan with her Episcopal missionary husband. Years after Madama Butterfly’s premiere, Correll spoke of her young neighbor named Cho-San, who became a “temporary wife” to an American sailor, bore him a child, and was later deserted by him. It’s possible that Puccini also used the novel Madame Chrysanthème by Pierre Loti as a source of inspiration.

Stage director, Catherine Malfitano shares, “There is an inexorable feeling of fate driving the character of Butterfly. We, the audience, can sense, smell, and feel the tragic outcome before it arrives...Central to our production is Cio-Cio-San’s relationship with her father. This Samurai warrior is not merely a footnote here…The father continues to rule over his daughter’s sense of justice and honor, even as she rebels against old Japan.” (Director’s Notes for Madama Butterfly are available on Central City Opera’s website at www.centralcityopera.org.)  

Production Team
Catherine Malfitano
returns to direct almost an entirely new cast in this summer’s Madama Butterfly after making her career directorial debut staging the production touted as “… thoughtfully conceived, fluently executed and heavy with ritual” by the Financial Times of London in 2005. In addition to her 2005 debut, Ms. Malfitano also directed CCO’s The Saint of Bleecker Street in 2007, as well as Lucia di Lammermoor last summer. Ms. Malfitano’s other recent directing credits include Tosca with English National Opera, Rigoletto at Washington National Opera and Don Giovanni for the Merola Program at San Francisco Opera. Canadian Dany Lyne designed the colorful, traditional Japanese sets and costumes for this production. A Dora Award winner for her set design of productions in Toronto, Ms. Lyne has collaborated on over 70 opera, theatre and musical theatre productions in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. David Martin Jacques returns this summer for his 10th festival as Resident Lighting Designer. Having designed more than 300 theatre, opera, television, dance and special event productions, he also collaborated with director Catherine Malfitano on Tosca at the English National Opera in May. The wig/makeup designer is Alison Mizerski-Hanks, who created designs for the production’s premiere in 2005 and returns for her sixth summer in residence with Central City Opera.

Performing Artists
British maestro Matthew Halls, who made his CCO debut with 2009’s Rinaldo, will return to conduct his first production of Madama Butterfly. Recently, Mr. Halls assumed the position of Artistic Director for the newly formed Retrospect Ensemble based in the U.K. Following their successful May 2009 inaugural performance at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, the Ensemble already boasts a new annual season at the prestigious Wigmore Hall in London, and tours to Korea, Israel, Portugal and Switzerland. Korean soprano Yunah Lee* makes her Central City Opera debut as Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly). Touted by The Sunday Business Post as “ a comprehensively beautiful and believable Butterfly…notable not just for the effortless ease of her singing but for Lee's extraordinary ability to heighten the dramatic tension,” the Juilliard graduate has performed the role of Cio-Cio-San around the globe. Ms. Lee recently performed the role for De Vlaamse Opera in Belgium as well as Braunschweig Staatstheater in Germany, and returned to New York City Opera for performances in April. Tenor Chad Shelton returns as Cio-Cio-San’s love interest, Lt. Benjamin F. Pinkerton, after his most recent performances with the company as Alfredo in La Traviata in 2007 and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni (2006). A former CCO Apprentice Artist, Mr. Shelton has performed often with the company as well as across the United States with such companies as San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and New York City Opera, as well as abroad with the Australian Opera, Grand Théâtre de Genève in Switzerland and Opéra National de Lorraine in France, to name a few.

Japanese mezzo-soprano Mika Shigematsu returns as Butterfly’s loyal servant, Suzuki, after making her Central City Opera debut in the same role with the 2005 production. A signature role for Ms. Shigematsu, she has performed Suzuki with companies such as Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera and Opera de Montpellier in France, among many others. Baritone Grant Youngblood returns as U.S. Consul Sharpless after his performances as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor last summer. Having performed often with Central City Opera, other recent appearances include Reverend Olin Blitch in Susannah in 2008 and Giorgio Germont in La Traviata in 2007. A role he has performed often, as Sharpless his credits include San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera and Madison Opera. Tenor Joseph Gaines makes his main stage debut with Central City Opera as Goro, the marriage broker, after his appearances in L’Incoronazione di Poppea and The Ballad of Baby Doe while an Apprentice Artist in the company’s Bonfils-Stanton Young Artists Training Program in 2006. This spring, Mr. Gaines performed as Basilio/Curzio in Le Nozze di Figaro with Pittsburgh Opera and as Cicillo in I Gioielli Della Madonna with Teatro Grattacielo in New York City. Additional roles in Madama Butterfly will be performed by members of the 2010 Bonfils-Stanton Young Artists Training Program. (A full cast list is located at the end of this release.)

Ticket and Festival Information
Subscriptions and single tickets are now available for Central City Opera’s 2010 Festival. Subscriptions to see Madama Butterfly, Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, the satirical operetta based on the story of Orpheus from Greek mythology featuring the famous “Can-can” dance; and Heggie’s Three Decembers, a modern chamber opera about the struggles of a famous actress and the twists and turns of the relationships with her two adult children; during the 2010 Festival start at just $90 and go up to $237. Single ticket prices range from $38 to $99. Supersaver and group discounts are also available for select performances. For opera-goers’ convenience, an opera bus leaving from Glendale and Simms Steakhouse will be available for $18 round-trip for select matinee performances.

Festival Extras
2010 Festival attendees can enhance their experience in Central City with additional artistic programming performed by the acclaimed Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice and Studio Artists. Opera a la Carte at Williams Stables offers patrons the opportunity to see staged scenes from a wide range of opera favorites. An annual tradition, CCO artists-in-training will stage the one-act cabaret opera about the Central City legend of the famous painting on the Teller House floor, The Face on the Barroom Floor. This year, artists-in-training will also stage Signor Deluso, a one-act opera buffa comedy of errors about couples and their suspected affairs. Prior to several matinee performances, patrons have the opportunity at the Teller House to enjoy a Salon Recital by a 2010 Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training performer. Before every performance, a FREE pre-performance preview, Opera Notes, allows the audience to gain further insight into each production.

To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Central City Opera Box Office at303-292-6700 or visit www.centralcityopera.org.

Celebrating its 78 th year, Central City Opera is the nation’s fifth-oldest opera company, located just 35 miles west of Denver in one of Colorado’s official National Landmark Historic Districts. The company continues to present artistically excellent professional opera; to offer career-entry training to young singers; to produce education and community service programs; and to preserve and maintain the Opera House and 30 other Victorian-era properties.

(Photos available upon request.)

*=Central City Opera Debut

Music by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
Based on a story by John Luther Long and the play by David Belasco

Conductor: Matthew Halls
Director: Catherine Malfitano
Scenic Designer: Dany Lyne
Costume Designer: Dany Lyne
Lighting Designer: David Martin Jacques
Wig/Makeup Designer: Alison M. Mizerski-Hanks
Stage Manager: Diane Lin
Chorus Master/Associate Conductor: Andrew Altenbach †
Musical Preparation: Pedro Yáñez, Katherine Kozak
Assistant Director: Keturah Stickann
Assistant Stage Manager: RaShelle C. Bradley
Supertitles: Thomas Getty

(Conducting July 15, performance)

Cast in order of vocal appearance

Lt. Benjamin F. Pinkerton: Chad Shelton
Goro: Joseph Gaines
Suzuki: Mika Shigematsu
Sharpless: Grant Youngblood
Cio-Cio-San: Yunah Lee*
Cousin: Kaileen Miller*
Mother: Julia Tobiska*
Aunt: Jacqueline Brecheen*
Uncle Yakuside: Max Wier
Imperial Commissioner: Jeffrey Seppala*
Registrar: Andrew McLaughlin*
The Bonze: Nicholas Nelson
Prince Yamadori: Scott Johnson, Jesse Enderle
Kate Pinkerton: Lindsey Anderson*
Chorus of Relatives & Friends Members of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program

Additional non-singing cast

Cio-Cio-San’s Samurai Father: Jesse Enderle/Scott Johnson
Young Butterfly/Young Geisha: Anna Marshall
Young Geisha: XiXi Brinkhuis
Dolore (“Trouble”): Madison Ann Anderle/Tia Amaral-Elkins

Costume Rental - Western Costumes, Utah Opera Costume Shop

Central City Opera Sponsors
Avenir Foundation
Erna D. Butler
Lanny and Sharon Martin
Central City Opera House Association Endowment Fund
Citizens of the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District

Major Sponsors
Boettcher Foundation
Bonfils-Stanton Foundation
Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Endowment Fund
El Pomar Foundation
The Hill Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
State Historical Fund

Production Sponsors
The Denver Post
Mr. and Mrs. Donald E. Scott
Galen and Ada Belle Spencer Foundation

Performance Sponsors
Pamela and Louis Bansbach
Nancy P. Brittain
Gates Family Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. Michael C. Huseby
Newmont Mining Corporation