Next month San Francisco Opera (SFO) will alternate its performances of a new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida with one of the most impressively designed stagings of Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly to have come to the War Memorial Auditorium. The designs were provided by Jun Kaneko, who first established his reputation here with a highly imaginative approach to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 620 opera The Magic Flute. His Butterfly designs were first seen in June of 2014 through a co-production with Opera Omaha. Once again the stage director will be Leslie Swackhamer. Yves Abel will conduct all but the last performance, which will be led by Resident Conductor Jordi Bernàcer. The SFO Chorus will be directed by Ian Robertson.
The title role will be sung by Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian, who made her SFO debut in 2014 in the title role of another Puccini opera, Tosca. On that occasion she succeeded admirably in bringing human substance to a role that often seems to be little more than a cardboard player in a melodramatic potboiler. When this particular Butterfly was first performed, Swackhamer succeeded impressively in transcending the melodramatic; so there will be much to expect from what Haroutounian brings to her role. The role of B. F. Pinkerton will be taken by the Italian tenor Vincenzo Costanzo, who will be making a much-anticipated American debut. The role of Sharpless, the United States consul stationed in Nagasaki, will be sung by American baritone Anthony Clark Evans; and Adler Fellow and mezzo Zanda Švēde will take the role of Butterfly’s maid Suzuki.
Madama Butterfly will be given ten performances, all sung in Italian with English supertitles. These will take place at 2 p.m. on November 6 and and December 4 and at 7:30 p.m. on November 9, 12, 15, 18, 22, 26, and 29 and December 1. As always, the venue will be the War Memorial Opera House at 301 Van Ness Avenue, on the northwest corner of Grove Street. Single tickets are priced from $26 to $397 (subject to change). Tickets may be purchased online through an event page on the SFO Web site that provides hyperlinks for each performance. Tickets may also be purchased at the Box Office in the outer lobby of the Opera House. Standing room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance. They are sold for $10, cash only.