Author Topic: PBS/Live from Lincoln Center Present Puccini's Madama Butterfly  (Read 2722 times)

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Offline Anne

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Thursday, March 20, 2008 8 - 11:00 pm
New York City Opera presents Giacomo Puccini's "Madama
Butterfly," which tells the story of a marriage between an
American Navy officer and his geisha bride. When he abandons
her after his tour of duty, he takes her love, her honor and
her dreams for the future. When he returns to claim their son,
she takes matters into her own hands. The poignant story of a
disastrous clash of cultures stars James Valenti and Shu-Ying
Li. (CC, Stereo)

Check local listings for time and day.

Offline Anne

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Re: PBS/Live from Lincoln Center Present Puccini's Madama Butterfly
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2008, 06:09:55 PM »
Live From Lincoln Center: Madama Butterfly performed by the New York City Opera
Madama Butterfly performed by the New York City Opera premiers Thursday, March 20, 2008.
Puccini's score comes to life in this beloved performance by the New York City Opera.
Live From Lincoln Center, produced by Lincoln Center's John Goberman and directed by Kirk Browning, makes the world's greatest artists accessible to home viewers in virtually every corner of the United States. It remains the only series of live broadcast performances on American television today. Approximately six major Lincoln Center performances are televised to a national audience of millions each year. In addition to its ten Emmy Awards and forty-seven Emmy nominations, Live From Lincoln Center has won two George Foster Peabody Awards, two Grammy Awards, three Monitor Awards, a Television Critics Award and many others.

The following is an excerpt from the "TV Notes" of this broadcast by Martin Bookspan:

It has been some time since we visited the New York City Opera in its soon-to-be-transformed home, The New York State Theater. That, however, will change on the evening of Thursday, March 20, when our Live From Lincoln Center cameras and microphones will be there to bring you a performance of one of the most beloved operas in the entire canon, Puccini's Madama Butterfly. At its premiere, however, Butterfly was a colossal failure—more of that later.

Mark Lamos directs this beautifully austere production, telling the tragic love story of a disastrous clash of cultures.
It all began with an article in an American magazine by a writer named John Luther Long. It told the story of an innocent teenaged Japanese geisha married to an American naval officer, who deserts her and returns some years later bringing along his American wife. The dramatic impact of the tale made an immediate impression on the playwright and director, David Belasco, who fashioned a highly successful play from the material. Along with a triumphant run in New York City, Belasco's Madame Butterfly opened at the Duke of York's Theatre in London where, in the summer of 1900, it became a big hit.

Coincidentally, Giacomo Puccini happened to be in London at that time for the British premiere of his Tosca. At the urging of Covent Garden's stage manager Puccini attended a performance of the play and was immediately struck by its potential as an opera. Similar to Manon Lescaut, Mimi and Tosca, here was a young woman victimized by forces beyond her control, forced to surrender to those forces. Puccini began to negotiate with Belasco for the operatic rights to the play, a process which took more than a year. Finally, in September 1901 a deal was made and Puccini asked his collaborators, Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, to fashion a libretto.

Live From Lincoln Center broadcasts performances by some of the world's greatest artists from the stages of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
There was much back-and-forthing in the construction of the opera. Belasco's play was a one-acter. The first libretto for the opera was an unwieldy two-acter, with Act 1 running a little less than an hour and Act 2 running more than an hour-and-a-half. This was the form in which Madama Butterfly was played at its premiere in February 1904 at Milan's famed La Scala. As mentioned above, it was an abject failure; audience boos and catcalls punctuated the singing and the playing. A production in Rome was cancelled and composer and librettists went to work adjusting their opera.

They arrived at a 3-act version, and the premiere of the "new" Madama Butterfly was scheduled barely three months later for the comparatively small town of Brescia—a good distance from Milan. This time everything was different. From the very opening until the end of the First Act the audience was absorbed in the music and the action. When the First Act curtain came down, the applause and cheers continued until Butterfly and Pinkerton responded with a reprise of their "Love Duet." From that moment on Madama Butterfly has conquered the audiences and stages of opera companies the world over. Among the many magical musical moments are the "Entrance of Butterfly" and the "Love Duet" in Act 1; her optimistic but fateful aria, "Un bel di" and the "Humming Chorus" in Act 2; and her suicide aria, "Con onor muore" ("To die with honor") in Act 3.

The New York City Opera production of the opera assembles an international cast: soprano Shu-Ying Li is the doomed Cio-Cio San (Butterfly); mezzo soprano Jennifer Tiller sings the role of Suzuki, Butterfly's companion; tenor James Valenti is the American naval officer, B. F. Pinkerton; and baritone Michael Chioldi sings the role of Sharpless, the American Consul in Nagasaki. The production is by Mark Lamos and the conductor is City Opera's Music Director, George Manahan.

Live From Lincoln Center is produced by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., in cooperation with Thirteen/WNET in New York. Please visit for more information on Live From Lincoln Center, including:

"TV Notes" articles on Live From Lincoln Center broadcasts by Martin Bookspan.
Video Vignettes providing personal visits with performers from the broadcasts.
Details of upcoming performances.
Webcasts from previous broadcasts.


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Re: PBS/Live from Lincoln Center Present Puccini's Madama Butterfly
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2008, 10:44:39 PM »
Can we be expecting more operas on tv?

Offline Anne

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Re: PBS/Live from Lincoln Center Present Puccini's Madama Butterfly
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2008, 10:53:41 PM »
Can we be expecting more operas on tv?

I think the Met is going to televise some operas via PBS.  Later they will sell the DVD's.  I didn't look for a recording date but I just bought the Met's I Puritani this past week.  It was very enjoyable - much better than any other I Puritani DVD I've seen.

Offline Wendell_E

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Re: PBS/Live from Lincoln Center Present Puccini's Madama Butterfly
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2008, 03:29:42 AM »
I think the Met is going to televise some operas via PBS. 

The Alabama Public Television website has these dates for the first operas from this season.  Check your local listings, of course.

Wed, March 26 at 8 p.m. Hansel And Gretel
Fri, March 28 at 2 a.m. Hansel And Gretel
Sun, April 6 at 3 p.m. Roméo Et Juliette
Sun, April 13 at 3 p.m. Macbeth
Sun, April 27 at 3 p.m.  Manon Lescaut

That's all the dates they list currently.  This season's other telecasts will be  Peter Grimes, Tristan und Isolde, La Bohème, and La Fille du Régiment.
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