RSO presents Season Opening Gala Madama Butterfly

Grand opera comes to the Coronado Theatre in all its splendor when the Rockford Symphony Orchestra presents Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at 8 p.m., Sept. 20. One of the world’s most beloved operas, Madama Butterfly is an unforgettable story of love, heartbreak and betrayal between an American naval officer and a Japanese geisha. This landmark production, in collaboration with Peoria-based Opera Illinois, marks the beginning of the RSO’s 68th season. “This is truly the first time grand opera will be presented in the Coronado Theatre,” said RSO Music Director Steven Larsen. “With the enlarged orchestra pit, there’s finally room for all the musicians that an opera requires. And, of course, the acoustical enhancements, bigger stage and state-of-the-art technical equipment will really bring this production to life. This will be an historic ‘first’ for Rockford!”

In the collaboration, the Rockford Symphony will supply all the musicians for the opera, led by Music Director Steven Larsen. Peoria-based Opera Illinois will provide the

costumes, sets, principal soloists and chorus for the production. “We’re very happy to be working with such a prestigious company,” said Scott Provancher, executive director of the RSO. “It would have been a daunting task for the Rockford Symphony to mount this production on its own. By working together, our two organizations can combine their strengths and talents to produce something truly exceptional.”

Madama Butterfly is the story of an American naval officer, Lt. Pinkerton, who makes a deal with a marriage broker for a Japanese “wife” while he is stationed in Nagasaki, Japan. Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly) marries the officer, renouncing her family and her religion in the name of love. When Pinkerton is reassigned, Butterfly waits patiently for his return, assuring all around her that her love will bring him back. When he finally does return to Japan, it is with his American wife, Kate. Realizing Pinkerton has deserted her, Butterfly commits suicide rather than live with the dishonor.

The lead roles in Madama Butterfly will be sung by tenor Joseph Levitt and soprano Oksana Krovytska. The New York City Opera recently honored Ukrainian soprano Oksana Krovytska with its coveted “Diva Award.” In addition to the New York City Opera, Ms. Krovytska has performed to great acclaim with the San Francisco Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Madison Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Mexico’s Opera de Bellas Artes, and Opera de Monte Carlo. Ms. Krovytska’s stunning performance of the lead role in Madama Butterfly in particular has garnered a great deal of critical praise. One New York Times reviewer wrote, “The center of our attention was also the object of our admiration. Oksana Krovytska sang beautifully as Cio-Cio-San. The voice works: its sincerity grips the ear, and it is tempered by a judicious musicality.” Since his operatic debut in 1980, Mr. Levitt has sung 35 leading roles in more than 1,000 performances. Favorites include the Duke in Rigoletto, Nemorino in L’Elisir d’Amore and the title role in Faust.

For more information, or to purchase tickets to Madama Butterfly as part of a subscription package, please call the RSO box office at 965-0049 or visit the website at Single tickets are on sale for $45, $35, $25 and $20 for students 18 and under. Tickets are also available through the CentreEvents box office at the Coronado Theatre and the MetroCentre. This collaboration is generously sponsored by National City, with additional funding from the Illinois Arts Council.

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