Pacific Opera Project To Present ‘Madama Butterfly’ In Japanese & English

By Francisco Salazar

The Pacific Opera Project is set to present an experimental version of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.”

The company will present the first-ever true-to-story bilingual “Madama Butterfly” with a new libretto written by POP Artistic Director Josh Shaw and Opera in the Heights Artistic Director Eiki Isomura. The production will present Puccini’s story as if it actually happened and attempt to answer the question: How would Butterfly and Pinkerton communicate?

The production will see all the Japanese roles sung in Japanese by Japanese-American artists and all American roles sung in English.

In Los Angeles, every singer in the chorus will be Japanese-American and most of the chorus will be composed of the South Bay Singers, led by Naoko Suga, who will serve as Chorus Master.

In an effort to only use Japanese-American singers for the Japanese roles, POP conducted a multi-year audition process with auditions in Houston, Los Angeles, and New York in addition to online submissions from singers in the States and Japan. Unlike most POP singable translations, this libretto will remain as faithful to the Italian word-for-word meaning as possible.

Sueko Oshimoto of Kimono SK will be costuming the production with Keiko Clark singing the title role of Cio-Cio San, Peter Lake as Pinkerton, Kenneth Stavert as Sharpless, Kimberly Sogioka as Suzuki, Eiji Miura as Goro, Hisato Masuyama as Bonze, Steve Moritsugu as Yamadori, Norge Yip as Imperial Commissioner, and Chelsea Obermeier as Kate Pinkerton.

Performances will be held on April 6, 13 and 14, 2019 at the Aratani Theatre at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.