MADAMA BUTTERFLY | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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MADAMA BUTTERFLY

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Puccini's Madama Butterfly tells the story of Cio-Cio-san, a poor 15-year-old geisha (nicknamed Butterfly) who marries a callous American naval officer (Pinkerton) and renounces her religion, causing her family to disown her. The first act is filled with rapturous husband-and-wife duets, but Pinkerton abandons Butterfly, and in the second act, three years later, she sings the achingly tender "Un Bel Di Vedremo" ("One Fine Day We Shall See"), imagining his return. When he does, in act three, it's with a new American bride. Though Butterfly has had Pinkerton's child, she agrees to let the couple raise him, resigned to her fate. She sings a heart-wrenching final aria to her son--"Tu, Tu, Piccolo Iddio" ("You, You, My Little God")--before committing hara-kiri. The role of Butterfly, with its delicacy, strength, and passion, is a perfect fit for silken-voiced American soprano Patricia Racette, who was riveting at the Lyric Opera this past season as Liu in Turandot and Madame Lidoine in Dialogues. This concert performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Apollo Chorus of Chicago (under the baton of Ravinia music director James Conlon) also features mezzo-soprano Ning Liang, tenor James Valenti, and baritone Fred Burchinal. a 7:30 PM, Pavilion, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay & Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park, 847-266-5100, $10-$75. A --Barbara Yaross

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