Opera Warhorses

An appreciation and analysis of the 'Standard Repertory' of opera

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In Quest of Puccini’s “Tosca” and “Butterfly” in the American Southwest – October 2015 to December 2016

September 30th, 2015

“Tosca” and “Madama Butterfly” are two of the most performed operas in the United States. Below are four productions I am scheduled to review between the months of October 2015 and December 2016. 


Tosca (Puccini), Houston Grand Opera, October 23, 24, 31, November 3, 6 and 14, 2015.

British director John Caird created his imposing production of Puccini’s “Tosca” for the Houston Grand Opera a half-decade ago [See my review at A New “Tosca” for Houston Grand Opera – January 30, 2010]. It has subsequently been seen in Los Angeles [See my review at Sondra Radvanovsky is a Radiant, Transcendent Tosca – Los Angeles Opera, May 18, 2013] and earlier this year in Chicago.

[Below: Tosca (Liudmyla Monastyrska, center) prepares to kill herself as Mario Cavaradossi (Alexey Dolgov, left, on ground) lies dead; edited image, based on a Lynn Lane photograph, courtesy of the Houston Grand Opera.]


Patrick Summers conducts the principal cast led by Liudmyla Monastyrska. Alexey Dolgov, whose role debut as Cavaradossi took place at the production’s inaugural performances in 2010, repeats as the revolutionary-minded nobleman.

Andrzej Dobber is Scarpia. Kyle Albertson is the Sacristan, Dmitry Belosselskiy is Angelotti, David Cangelosi Spoletta and Ben Edquist Sciarrone.

On November 14 an alternate cast conducted by Bradley Moore,  consisting of Kelly Kaduce, Chad Shelton and Weston Hurt, performs.

[For my performance review, see: Review: Monastyrska, Dolgov, Dobber in Caird’s Dramatic “Tosca” – Houston Grand Opera, October 31, 2015.]


Tosca (Puccini), San Diego Opera, February 13, 16, 19 and 21(m), 2016.

Greer Grimsley, gave a gripping performance as Scarpia in San Diego Opera’s previous mounting of Puccini’s great work [See my review at Grimsley Memorable in San Diego Opera’s Quasi-Traditional “Tosca” – January 27, 2009].

[Below: Tosca (Alexia Voulgaridou) is reunited with the condemned Mario Cavaradossi (Gywn Hughes Jones, edited image, based on a Cory Weaver photograph for the San Diego Opera.]


Grimsley returns, this time with Greek soprano Alexia Voulgaridou and Gywn Hughes Jones as Cavaradossi. Kristopher Irmiter plays both Angelotti and Sciarrone. Massimo Zanetti conducts, Lesley Koenig directs.

[For my performance review, see: Review: A Top Notch “Tosca” from Alexia Voulgaridou, Gwyn Hughes Jones and Greer Grimsley – San Diego Opera, February 13, 2016.]


Madama Butterfly (Puccini), Los Angeles Opera, March 12, 20(m), 23, 26, 31 and April 3(m), 2016.

When British Director Lee Blakeley and Jean-Marc Puissant set out to conceptualize and to design the sets for the Santa Fe Opera’s 2009 production of “Madama Butterfly” they decided to create a realistic image of the Nagasaki neighborhood in which an impoverished woman with a child, who had consorted with and was abandoned by an American sailor, would live. [See my conversation Mounting the Big Shows: A Conversation with Director Lee Blakeley.]

[Below: Cio-cio San (Ana Maria Martinez, left) anticipates a ship’s arrival as Suzuki (Milena Kitic, right) looks on, in the Lee Blakeley production of “Madama Butterfly” at the Los Angeles Opera, edited image of a Ken Howard photograph, courtesy of the Los Angeles Opera..]


Blakeley will revise his production to accommodate the larger (and differently configured) Los Angeles Opera stage.

Ana Maria Martinez is Cio-Cio San, Stefano Secco is Lieutenant Pinkerton. Milena Kitic sings Suzuki, Kihun Yoon is Sharpless. Nicholas Brownlee is the Bonze. James Conlon conducts.

[For my performance review, see: Review: An Exciting, Moving “Madame Butterfly” – Los Angeles Opera, March 12, 2016.]


Madama Butterfly (Puccini), San Francisco Opera, November 6(m), 12, 15, 18, 22, 26. 29, and December 1 and 4(m), 2016.

Lianna Haroutounian is Butterfly and Maxim Aksenov is Pinkerton in Jun Kaneko’s stylish production of “Madama Butterfly”, revived by director Leslie Swackhamer.

[Below: the marriage scene from the Jun Kaneko  production of “Madama Butterfly”; edited image, based on a photograph for Opera Omaha.]


Zanda Svede is Suzuki, Anthony Clarke Evans is Sharpless and Raymond Aceto is the Bonze. Yves Abel and Jordi Benacer share conducting duties.

[For my review of San Francisco Opera’s previous mounting of the Kaneko production,  see House of Puccini: Jun Kaneko’s Enchanting “Madama Butterfly” Soars at War Memorial – San Francisco Opera, June 15, 2014.]


This list is supplementary to previous lists in this “Quests and Anticipations” series of selected operas being performed from October 2015 through March 2016:

Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” at the San Francisco Opera, Bellini’s “Norma” at the Los Angeles Opera and Donizetti’s “Maria Stuarda (Mary Stuart) at the Seattle Opera. [See In Quest of High Drama in Early 19th Century Opera – September 2015 to March 2016.]

Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” at the San Francisco Opera and Los Angeles Opera [See In Quest of Mozart Operatic Magic – July 2015 to March 2016.]

Heggie’s “Great Scott” at The Dallas Opera and Adamo’s “Becoming Santa Claus” at The Dallas Opera [See In Quest of Operatic World Premieres – June-December, 2015.]

Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger” at the San Francisco Opera [See In Quest of Operas by Wagner and Richard Strauss: March-November, 2015.]

Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” at the San Francisco Opera and Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” at the Houston Grand Opera [See In Quest of “Figaro” Operas – February 2015 through February 2016.]

Getty’s “Usher House” and Debussy’s “La Chute de la Maison Usher” at the San Francisco Opera [See Anticipated Operatic “Double Bills” in Los Angeles and San Francisco – Fall, 2015.]

Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”, Dvorak’s “Rusalka” and Floyd’s “Prince of Players” at the Houston Grand Opera and Massenet’s “Manon” at The Dallas Opera. [See Engaging Operatic Fare in Texas – October 2015 – March 2016.]


Tags: Quests and Anticipations