By Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
based on “Madame Butterfly” by David Belasco
Sung in Italian with English Surtitles
November 7th and 9th, 2014
Puccini’s great tragedy of innocence betrayed is set to some of the most beautiful music ever composed for the stage. Butterfly, a trusting young geisha girl, is to be “married” to Lieutenant Pinkerton, who is just looking for a good time prior to his return to his American home – where he will marry a “real” American bride. Pinkerton leaves, promising to return, but after three years, and having borne his child, Butterfly still keeps lonely vigil for him. He does return, but with his American bride, and Butterfly’s life is shattered as she is called to give up her child, ultimately giving up her life as well.
The title role will be sung by world renowned soprano Tamura Asako, known all over the world for her performances of Butterfly, with gifted American tenor Chad Shelton as Pinkerton, and Baltimore favorite Timothy Mix as Sharpless. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Steven White in a magnificent production designed by John Conklin and directed by James Harp.
Asako Tamura - Soprano
A native of Kyoto, Japan, Asako Tamura has appeared with opera companies worldwide. She recently made her debut in London at the Royal Albert Hall in "Madam Butterfly" (Cio-Cio San) to rapturous reviews from the London critics. Ms. Tamura's extensive performance credits include appearances in Lucia di Lammermoor (Lucia) with the Hungarian State Opera (Budapest), Ente Luglio Musicale Trapanese (Sicily), Teatro Lirico di Cagliari (Sardinia), and Opera Constanza (Romania); Verdi’s “I Masnadieri” (Amalia) with the Sarasota Opera (Florida); “La Traviata” (Violetta) with the El Paso Opera (Texas); female leads in Leoni’s “L'Oracolo” and Montemezzi’s “L'Incantesimo” at the Avery Fisher Hall with Teatro Grattacielo (NY); “L'Ottavia” at the Scarlatti Festival in Tokyo; Donatoni’s “Alfred, Alfred” (Arlene) at the Contemporanea Arena di Verona; “Rigoletto” (Gilda) and “Romeo et Juliette” (Juliette) with the Hungarian State Opera ; and Cio-Cio San with the Teatro Solis (Uruguay). Her many appearances in orchestral concerts around the world include The Three Tenors (Domingo, Pavarotti, Carreras) in Yokohama, Japan, the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, L.A. Symphony, Opera Ai Fori Gala Concert Orchestra (Rome), Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Upcoming performances include “La Traviata” (Violetta) with the Kalamazoo Symphony (Michigan) in September and Cio-Cio San at the Sarasota Opera (Florida) in October/November. For more information, see www.asakotamura.com
Mika Shigematsu - Mezzo-Soprano
In 1988, Mika Shigematsu was awarded first prize in the mezzo-soprano division of the "Japan Italy Vocal Concorso".The following year she moved to New York obtaining a fellowship as an overseas artist dispatched by the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs. After her research period, she won first place at the All Japan Music Competition in 1991. Subsequently, she obtained a fellowship of two years from the San Francisco Opera Center, during which time she performed in numerous operas and concerts. In 1993, she received considerable attention internationally with her principal debut in the role of Elvira in Bellini's "Puritani" (the US premier of the Maria Malibran version) at the Boston Lyric Opera.
Subsequently, she has performed at the San Francisco Opera; Boston Lyric Opera; Canadian Opera (Toronto); Minnesota Opera, as Rosina in Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia". At the San Francisco Opera and Opera Colorado (conductor Richard Bonynge) she has sung the title role of Rossini's "Cinderella". In addition, starting with the role of Cherubino of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" at the Seattle Opera, she has performed widely in North America including the Carmel Bach Festival, and with the Texas Fort Worth Opera, Opera North Carolina, Augusta Opera, Opera Montreal and Santa Barbara Symphony.
In Europe, she has performed at the Opera National de Lyon; as Suzuki for Puccini's "Madame Butterfly" at the Royal Albert Hall, London; as the Musician in Puccini's "Manon Lescaut" at the Opera national de Paris (Bastille); in the role of Agnese in Bellini's "Dante and Beatrice" in collaboration with Mariella Devia at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam for the "Concert Opera Series" of VARA radio. In Italy she sang in the role of Charlotte for Jules Massenet's "Werther" (conductor Daniel Oren) at Teatro Carlo Felice with Ramon Vargas.
She has also been active with recitals. Starting with the recital series of the Opera National de Lyon, she has been invited to perform in San Francisco, Geneva, Santa Barbara, with artists such as Brian Asawa and Christophe Rousset. In Japan, she has held recitals in cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto with excellent reviews.
Her activity in the recent years include; participation as a guest artist for the Vermont International Opera Festival; Romeo in Bellini's "I Capuleti e I Montecchi" in concert form for the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest (Holland); "Madame Butterfly" at the Opera et Orchestre National de Montpellier (France); a soloist for the National Choir Symphony at Avery Fisher Hall (New York); made her debut in "Madame Butterfly" and "Flavio" at the New York City Opera; "Madame Butterfly" at the San Diego Opera.
In Japan, she has been invited as a soloist from numerous orchestras including, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra and Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, performing with foreign conductors such as Charles Edouard Dutoit, Gerd Albrecht and Kurt Masur.
Currently Mika Shigematsu lives in New York, widely drawing attention through her high profile for her international performances in operas and concerts.
Chad Shelton - Tenor
Opera News praises tenor Chad Shelton for one of his trademark roles, claiming that his “Don José was the dramatic heart of this production; this was a performance that grew in complexity as he struggled to reconcile the forces of loyalty, lust and fate. Shelton owned the final scene, as his character descended into despair fueled by psychotic obsession. His bright tone amplified the intensity of the last gripping moments.” In the 2013-14 season, he returns to Houston Grand Opera for both Fredrik Egerman in A Little Night Music and his first performances of Froh in Das Rheingold. In addition, he returns to Opéra National de Lorraine for the title role in Candide and sings Ferrando in Così fan tutte at the Hyogo Performing Arts Center in Japan and Don Jose in Carmen with Pensacola Opera. Last season, he returned to the Opéra National de Lorraine for Jack in Gerald Barry’s The Importance of Being Earnest, joined Boston Lyric Opera for his first performances of Erik in Der fliegende Holländer, and made debuts with Teatro Municipal de São Paulo as Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress and the Brussels Philharmonic for Verdi’s Requiem. He also returned to the Houston Symphony for Handel’s Messiah and joined Los Angeles Opera for its production of Madama Butterfly.
He joined Opéra National de Lorraine on numerous previous occasions including for the title role of Idomeneo, Giasone in Cherubini’s Medea, Don Jose in Carmen, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Guido Bardi in Eine florentinische Tragödie, and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte. He is a frequent leading presence with Houston Grand Opera and has joined the company previously for Alfredo in La traviata, for Don Jose in Carmen, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Camille in Die lustige Witwe, Janek in The Makropolous Case, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Captain Vere in Billy Budd, and Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore. Acclaimed for his performances of contemporary works, he also created the roles of Nico in Lysistrata and Laurie in Little Women (released on the Ondine label and broadcast on PBS), both by Mark Adamo, and Ulises in Catan’s Salsipuedes in addition to Arcadio in the composer’s Florencia en el Amazonas with Houston Grand Opera.
He has also sung Prince in The Love of Three Oranges with Grand Théâtre de Genève, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Théâtre de Caen; Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Grand Théâtre de Genève, Opera Pacific; further performances of the title role of Idomeneo with Théâtre de Caen and Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg; Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Opéra National de Bordeaux; Don Jose in Carmen with Opéra-Théâtre de Metz, Utah Opera, Festival Classique at the Hague, and Opera Pacific; and Alfredo in La traviata with Austin Lyric Opera, Arizona Opera, Utah Opera, Nevada Opera, Opera Pacific, and Central City Opera. He has also joined Central City Opera for a host of other roles including further performances of Laurie in Little Women, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Fernando in Granados’ Goyescas, Cavaradossi in Tosca, and Reverend Paris in The Crucible.
Other career highlights include Pilade in Ermione and further performances of Nico in Lysistrata and Laurie in Little Woman with New York City Opera; E. Porter Alexander in the world premiere of Glass’ Appamattox with San Francisco Opera; Duca in Rigoletto and Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Austin Lyric Opera; Roméo in Roméo et Juliette with Madison Opera; Alfred in Die Fledermaus and Jacquino in Fidelio with Dallas Opera; Leo in Blitzstein’s Regina with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Florida Grand Opera. He has also sung Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Opera Australia and Portland Opera; Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Opera Colorado; and Ferrando in Così fan tutte with Arizona Opera and Kentucky Opera. His contemporary repertoire also includes further performances of Little Woman with Central City Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and Opera Omaha; Tom Rakewell in A Rake’s Progress with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City; Sam in Floyd’s Susannah with Chautauqua Opera; and George in Danielpour’s Margaret Garner with Cincinnati Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia.
Mr. Shelton is equally in demand as a concert soloist and has joined the Minnesota Orchestra for Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Janá?ek’s The Diary of One Who Vanished, as well as the title role in concert performances of Candide. His performances of Respighi’s Belkis, Queen of Sheba Suite and Argento’s Le tombeau d’Edgar Poe, also with the Minnesota Orchestra, have been released on the Reference label. He has sung Siegel’s Kaddish with the Houston Symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Pacific Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, and Colorado Music Festival and Mozart’s Requiem with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Handel’s Messiah with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and a gala concert of opera favorites with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra.
He is the recipient of a Richard Tucker Foundation Career Grant and the Richard F. Gold Career Grand from the Shoshana Foundation. He holds a Master of Music degree and Artist diploma from the Yale University School of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree from Louisiana State University.
Timothy Mix - Baritone