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'Madama Butterfly' returns to Barcelona's Liceu theater

Puccini's popular opera begins on Saturday with sopranos Lianna Haroutounian and Ainhoa Arteta sharing the lead role

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08 January 2019 08:15 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

'Madama Butterfly,' Giacomo Puccini's most popular opera, returns to Barcelona's Liceu theater on Saturday under the musical direction of master conductor, Giampaolo Bisanti.

The production by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, performed in the Liceu in 2006 and 2013, features the internationally renowned sopranos, Lianna Haroutounian and Ainhoa Arteta, who alternate in the leading role of Cio-Cio-San.

The Japanese girl's lover in the story, the American naval officer named Pinkerton, is played by the tenors Jorge de León and Rame Lahaj, who will make his debut performance in the Catalan capital's opera house.

"Elegant, classic and very aesthetic"

The Liceu's artistic director, Christina Scheppelmann, described the co-production between the Liceu and the Royal Opera House as "elegant, classic and very aesthetic."

This version of the opera has been designed with a minimalist elegance that recalls the typical simplicity of Japanese style. "In this production, the set is very original and a lot is left in the hands of the singers," said Lahaj.

Explaining that it is not unusual to repeat a successful production, Scheppelmann stressed that "while it may seem like the same show, it is not," as the different interpretations "provide other emotions and experiences," she added.

Love, abandonment and suicide

'Madama Butterfly' tells the story of a young geisha from Nagasaki who falls in love with the American Pinkerton, who she marries, despite opposition from her family. Yet, the officer abandons her, and when he eventually returns home, now with a western woman, he claims the child that Cio-Cio-San had in his absence, breaking her heart and driving her to suicide.

For Haroutounian, the role of Butterfly is "very emotional and sensitive." "She is a woman who is at once fragile and strong, as well as deep and naive," says the Armenian soprano, who adds that each performance is unique.

For Bisanti, who will conduct the Liceu Orchestra and Choir, the role of Cio-Cio-San is the essence around which everything turns, and he says the main character is "unique among Puccini's work," as she sings from beginning to end, for the three hours the show lasts.

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  • Soprano Lianna Haroutounian, playing Cio-Cio-San in liceu's Madame Butterfly on January 8 2018 (by Lucía Franco de Paz)

  • Soprano Lianna Haroutounian, playing Cio-Cio-San in liceu's Madame Butterfly on January 8 2018 (by Lucía Franco de Paz)