One of the most loved and most frequently performed operas in the world, Puccini's Madama Butterfly tells the tragic story of a young Japanese geisha who is abandoned by her lover, a US Naval Officer. Initially set in 1904, Opera Australia will bring the action forward to post-WWII.
The production is to be directed by avant-garde theatre maker Alex Olle of La Fura dels Baus, who brought his bold style to A Masked Ball earlier this year. Also onboard are La Fura del Baus designers Alfons Flores and Lluc Castells, who will create a contemporary look for the production, with spectacular costumes (see below) and a set featuring an enormous full moon.
Japanese soprano Hiromi Omura will return to Australia to star as Cio-Cio San after she played the role to critical acclaim in the 2012 Opera Australia production. She shares the leading role with Korean soprano Hyeseoung Kwon, who has performed with Opera Australia since she joined the Young Artists Program in 2005. The production will also feature international tenors Georgy Vasiliev and Andeka Gorrotxategi as Pinkerton, Michael Honeyman and Barry Ryan as Sharpless, Graeme Mcfarlane as Goro and Anna Yun as Suzuki.
Madama Butterfly rides high on the success of La Traviata and Carmen, both of which attracted around 41,000 people, of which approximately 60% had never attended an opera before. Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is a unique outdoor event performed on a massive floating stage at the custom-built site in the Royal Botanic Garden. With Sydney Harbour as the backdrop, Opera Australia have aimed to make the event an ongoing tourism attraction and have worked with the NSW Government to make it a highlight on the opera world's calendar.
Of Opera Australia's plans for 2014, Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini said, “La Fura Dels Baus are a creative powerhouse and we are thrilled about the spectacular new production that are creating for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour: Madama Butterfly. We have some superb international singers joining us here in Sydney for what has become the cultural event of the year and we are very appreciative of the support of the State Government in helping us deliver this in 2014.”
Madama Butterfly plays at Mrs Macquarie's Point, The Royal Botanic Garden from Friday 21 March. More information is available at operaonsydneyharbour.com.au. Single tickets are on sale from 23 September, but tickets can be purchased as part of an Opera Australia subscription package from this Friday.