Free simulcast offers chance to experience ‘Madama Butterfly’

  • Wed May 2nd, 2012 3:27pm
  • Life

By Jackson Holtz Herald Writer

The best seat to Seattle Opera’s “Madama Butterfly” may not be in McCaw Hall.

They’ll be across the Seattle Center inside KeyArena where for the first time a Seattle Opera performance will be simulcast in high-definition on a huge screen.

Tickets to the May 5 simulcast are free, offering thousands the opportunity to enjoy one of the most beloved operas. As many as 8,000 viewers are expected to watch as they reach for tissues during Puccini’s great tragedy.

“Bringing a Seattle Opera performance to everyone has long been my dream,” said Speight Jenkins, general director of Seattle Opera. “The simulcast of ‘Madama Butterfly’ will allow everyone who can get into KeyArena the opportunity of revelling in the love and pain of one of the most appealing characters in opera.

“We are happy to celebrate 50 great years of Seattle Center.”

No recording will be made.

“You have to be there,” Jonathan Dean, an opera spokesman, said.

The story, which was remade into the Broadway musical “Miss Saigon,” is of love amid clashing cultures. Set in Nagasaki, Japan, at the beginning of the 20th century, the curtain goes up to find that Pinkerton, an American soldier, is given a house, which comes complete with a wife, Cio-Cio-San, a geisha, who is Butterfly.

Pinkerton has no intention of remaining faithful to Butterfly, who bears his son. When Butterfly learns Pinkerton has married an American woman, she decides to take her own life in the sacred Samuri ritual of harakiri.

All this unfolds in the nearly three-hour opera. It is a truly Italian opera, despite the sensational Japanese costumes and set pieces.

As is typical with Seattle Opera performances, there are two casts, gold and silver, singing the primary roles.

Soprano Patricia Racette makes her Seattle Opera debut in the gold cast as Cio-Cio-San, a roll she’s earned international accolades for singing. Lithuanian soprano Ausrine Stundyte sings the role in the silver cast.

Italian tenor Stefano Secco makes his Seattle debut in the gold cast as Pinkerton, a role he’s sung in opera houses around the world. American tenor Nathaniel Peake also debuts Pinkerton in the alternate cast.

Six-year-old Gabriella Mercado of Lynnwood plays Dolore, Butterfly and Pinkerton’s son, in the Saturday and Wednesday performances.

Bulgarian conductor Julian Kovatchev makes his Seattle Opera debut leading these performances. The performance is directed by Peter Kazaras.

The show use sets and costumes created by the Canadian Opera Company, which first appeared at Seattle Opera in 1995. Lighting design is by Duane Schuler.

“Madama Butterfly” is scheduled for eight performances: 7:30 p.m. May 5, 9, 11, 12, 16 and 19; and 2 p.m. May 13 and 20 at McCaw Hall. Gold cast performances are on Saturdays and Wednesdays.

Tickets start at $25 at or 800-426-1619.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. May 5 simulcast at KeyArena are free but must be reserved at

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3447;