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Madama Butterfly

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By Phil Greenfield and Phil Greenfield,Special to The Sun | February 4, 1994
The New York City Opera National Company dedicates itself to the task of bringing young talent from the Big Apple's No.TC opera house to the provinces "in old-fashioned bus and truck style," the printed program declares.Last Friday, they bused and trucked to Annapolis to present Puccini's immortal "Madama Butterfly" before a packed house at the U.S. Naval Academy's Alumni Hall. A full week later, I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out what gives with this company.Make no mistake, these were highly pedigreed youngsters.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,Sun Music Critic | May 12, 2008
Although famously booed, hissed and cat-called at its premiere in February 1904, Puccini's Madama Butterfly took wing by May - after the composer made some revisions - and has flown unimpeded ever since, unaffected by changing times or attitudes. The ardent Italian lyricism of the score, inflected with touches of Japanese melody, continues to grip the ear and the heart. The cultural collision that starts the plot on its course still resonates in many ways (strange how such issues as Ugly Americanism and racial stereotyping never seem to go away)
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FEATURES
By Judith Green and Judith Green,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | November 18, 1997
One of the great spintos of our time, Diana Soviero is enormously affecting in the title role of Giacomo Puccini's "Madama Butterfly," the Baltimore Opera's second production of the season, which runs through Sunday at the Lyric Opera House.However, the production goes out of its way to make Lt. B. F. Pinkerton, who seduces and abandons the trusting Japanese geisha, into a very ugly American indeed.Granted, Pinkerton is a cad. But he also must have enough boyish charm to justify Butterfly's single-minded and tragic loyalty.
NEWS
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,Sun music critic | May 4, 2008
In his last year at the University of Milan, where he majored in music history, Paolo Micciche wrote his thesis on the origin of comic opera in the 17th century. Some years hence, a university student may well write a thesis on the origin of Micciche's trademark high-tech graphics in the staging of operas, comic or otherwise. On Stage Madama Butterfly will be performed at 8:15 p.m. Saturday and four more times through May 18 at the Lyric Opera House, 110 W. Mount Royal Ave. $46 to $132.
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | November 6, 2006
Over time, certain operas become sacred, their stories treated like divine revelations, never in the slightest need of fresh interpretations. Puccini's Madama Butterfly is a case in point. For true believers, everything about this tale of love, loss and culture clash in early 1900s Nagasaki is clear and sensible as it stands. So anytime someone considers bringing such a sacrosanct work to the stage, the only proper course of action is to stay the course, to go with the opera you have, not the one you wish you had. Madama Butterfly continues through Nov. 19 at the Kennedy Center, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest.
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,Sun Music Critic | May 12, 2008
Although famously booed, hissed and cat-called at its premiere in February 1904, Puccini's Madama Butterfly took wing by May - after the composer made some revisions - and has flown unimpeded ever since, unaffected by changing times or attitudes. The ardent Italian lyricism of the score, inflected with touches of Japanese melody, continues to grip the ear and the heart. The cultural collision that starts the plot on its course still resonates in many ways (strange how such issues as Ugly Americanism and racial stereotyping never seem to go away)
NEWS
By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 16, 1997
In its 1997-1998 season, the Baltimore Opera Company will stage an opera by Richard Wagner for the first time in 15 years. Besides Wagner's "Der fliegende Hollander" ("The Flying Dutchman"), the company's productions will include Giacomo Puccini's "Madama Butterfly," Giuseppe Verdi's last (and perhaps greatest) opera, "Falstaff," and Georges Bizet's "Carmen."Its programming of Wagner's "Hollander," usually considered the composer's first genuine masterpiece, appears to mark a significant step for the company.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | March 18, 2005
Those lucky enough to have tickets for this weekend's Annapolis Opera performances of Puccini's Madama Butterfly are in for a musical treat, based on a recent rehearsal. Conductor and artistic director Ronald J. Gretz guided a cast of gifted singers Saturday on the third floor of Asbury Methodist Church on West Street. The utilitarian setting was transformed by the energy that Gretz and the singers generated, which in turn inspired the actors to reach opening-night form. Soprano Yali-Marie Williams, who was acclaimed by Annapolis Opera audiences and critics two years ago for her Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata, seemed to become Puccini's tragic Cio-Cio San - Madama Butterfly - singing "Amore Mio" (My Love)
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | January 3, 2002
An earthy, brutal opera that offended Stalin, and an Oriental-flavored gem from the French repertoire are among the works planned for the Baltimore Opera Company's 2002-2003 season. These two jolts of novelty - Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Dmitri Shostakovich and Lakme by Leo Delibes - will be balanced by such perennial favorites as Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto, Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus and Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly. The Shostakovich production is Baltimore Opera's contribution to "Vivat!
NEWS
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | December 31, 2006
CLASSICAL MUSIC organizations are not typically on the cutting edge of technology -- but more and more of them, with an eye on long-term survival, have heartily embraced new opportunities. Orchestras are figuring out how to make concerts downloadable in various formats, for example, in an effort to avoid the difficulties (and huge expenses) of making commercial recordings the old-fashioned way. Things are especially interesting in the opera world, which seems to be embracing the techno-cyber era more than anyone.
NEWS
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | December 31, 2006
CLASSICAL MUSIC organizations are not typically on the cutting edge of technology -- but more and more of them, with an eye on long-term survival, have heartily embraced new opportunities. Orchestras are figuring out how to make concerts downloadable in various formats, for example, in an effort to avoid the difficulties (and huge expenses) of making commercial recordings the old-fashioned way. Things are especially interesting in the opera world, which seems to be embracing the techno-cyber era more than anyone.
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | November 6, 2006
Over time, certain operas become sacred, their stories treated like divine revelations, never in the slightest need of fresh interpretations. Puccini's Madama Butterfly is a case in point. For true believers, everything about this tale of love, loss and culture clash in early 1900s Nagasaki is clear and sensible as it stands. So anytime someone considers bringing such a sacrosanct work to the stage, the only proper course of action is to stay the course, to go with the opera you have, not the one you wish you had. Madama Butterfly continues through Nov. 19 at the Kennedy Center, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest.
FEATURES
By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | December 6, 2005
Washington National Opera announced yesterday a remarkably ambitious and enticing lineup for 2006-2007 that includes the North American premiere of Sophie's Choice by eminent British-born composer Nicholas Maw, conducted by Marin Alsop, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's soon-to-be music director. Sophie's Choice, based on the William Styron novel that inspired an acclaimed film, was premiered by London's Royal Opera in 2002. This powerful story about one woman's wrenching experience in the Holocaust was recently staged in Berlin and Vienna, Austria.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | March 25, 2005
Superb singing and acting created high musical drama in the Annapolis Opera's production last weekend of Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly. The performances marked the return of 28-year-old soprano Yali-Marie Williams, a product of Juilliard School and Curtis Institute who debuted at the Annapolis Opera two years ago as Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata. Last weekend, she assumed the more demanding Butterfly role. Williams' lovely voice took on the coloration of an innocent 15-year-old bride in her entrance "Ancora un passa via" (one more step)
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | March 18, 2005
Those lucky enough to have tickets for this weekend's Annapolis Opera performances of Puccini's Madama Butterfly are in for a musical treat, based on a recent rehearsal. Conductor and artistic director Ronald J. Gretz guided a cast of gifted singers Saturday on the third floor of Asbury Methodist Church on West Street. The utilitarian setting was transformed by the energy that Gretz and the singers generated, which in turn inspired the actors to reach opening-night form. Soprano Yali-Marie Williams, who was acclaimed by Annapolis Opera audiences and critics two years ago for her Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata, seemed to become Puccini's tragic Cio-Cio San - Madama Butterfly - singing "Amore Mio" (My Love)
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | May 31, 2003
Vivien Hewitt asks all the singers to take a deep breath and then plunges into another rehearsal for Baltimore Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly, which opens tonight at the Lyric Opera House. "We're going to clean up little messy corners, tiny little details," the director says. Moments later, she's refining the way two men carry items onto the stage, intently watching their every step, the placement of their hands. "It's got to be slow and imposing, as Japanese ceremonies are," she says.
FEATURES
By Sylvia Badger | November 23, 1997
THIS YEAR'S CARRIAGE House Collection at Evergreen was a holiday extravaganza, where guests could sip champagne while buying distinctive gifts from more than 50 boutiques. The collection, an annual show and sale at the lovely Evergreen House, has been a project of the Women's Board of the Johns Hopkins Hospital for 41 years.Besides getting a chance to shop and bid on one-of-a-kind items, board members and their guests at this year's preview party were treated to elegant floral displays throughout Evergreen House created by prominent designers.
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | November 3, 2001
Opera productions that come with a "director's note" in the program can be summed up by the nickname of the unfortunate, half-American child born to the heroine of Puccini's Madama Butterfly - "Trouble." The Washington Opera's provocative, often powerfully affecting presentation of Butterfly more or less breaks that rule. Yes, there's a note from the director, Mariusz Trelinski, trying to explain his "concept." He makes all sorts of deep statements about seeking "the hidden meaning in a work of art," finding its "spiritual dimension," and his use of symbols and gestures to let the audience see "hints of spatial contours rather than architecture."
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | January 3, 2002
An earthy, brutal opera that offended Stalin, and an Oriental-flavored gem from the French repertoire are among the works planned for the Baltimore Opera Company's 2002-2003 season. These two jolts of novelty - Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Dmitri Shostakovich and Lakme by Leo Delibes - will be balanced by such perennial favorites as Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto, Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus and Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly. The Shostakovich production is Baltimore Opera's contribution to "Vivat!
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | November 3, 2001
Opera productions that come with a "director's note" in the program can be summed up by the nickname of the unfortunate, half-American child born to the heroine of Puccini's Madama Butterfly - "Trouble." The Washington Opera's provocative, often powerfully affecting presentation of Butterfly more or less breaks that rule. Yes, there's a note from the director, Mariusz Trelinski, trying to explain his "concept." He makes all sorts of deep statements about seeking "the hidden meaning in a work of art," finding its "spiritual dimension," and his use of symbols and gestures to let the audience see "hints of spatial contours rather than architecture."
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