FGO’s 2014-15 Season: Eclectic Repertoire will Resonate with All

Florida Grand Opera (FGO) announces its 74th continuous season of producing opera featuring four mainstage productions for its 2014-2015 Season, which will include Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Georges Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers (Les pêcheurs de perles), and Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Consul.

“I am proud to bring an eclectic mix of repertoire to the stage for the 2014-2015 Season featuring operas and composers beloved by our audience complemented by The Consul, a gripping American drama that captivated Broadway audiences during its initial run. We are so pleased to be performing this piece for the first time in FGO’s history,” said Susan T. Danis, General Director and CEO of Florida Grand Opera. “This season will be exciting and thrilling for both first time attendees and opera lovers.”

Madame Butterfly

While in London to oversee a production of his latest opera, Tosca, in 1900, Puccini saw David Belasco’s play Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan. The play, which had enjoyed a significant success earlier in New York, was based on a short story by John Luther Long, which was largely factual. Puccini found the story deeply moving, and was able to enlist Belasco’s support and secure permission to create an opera from his play. Following its premiere at La Scala in 1904, Madame Butterfly quickly became one of the world’s most beloved operas, and remains today among the most frequently produced.

In the port of Nagasaki, the American sailor Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton pays an unscrupulous marriage broker to provide him with a Japanese wife for entertainment during his stay. The lovely Cio-Cio San, known as Madame Butterfly, enters the relationship in one of the most rapturous love duets ever composed, unmindful of Pinkerton’s intention to amuse himself until he can take a “real wife” from America. Abandoned with a child born long after Pinkerton’s departure, Butterfly desperately clings to the belief that he will return to her.

When Pinkerton’s ship finally enters the harbor Butterfly ecstatically prepares for their reunion. The crushing realization that he now has an American wife and has come to take her child leaves but one option for the former Geisha. In the opera’s tragic conclusion, she ends her life with the one treasured possession she brought to the marriage: the knife with which her father had committed hari-kari.

SCHEDULE | Madame Butterfly

**Sung in Italian with projected titles in English and Spanish**

MIAMI ◙ Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County / Ziff Ballet Opera House
November 15, 16, 18, 21, 22, 2014

FORT LAUDERDALE ◙ Broward Center for the Performing Arts / Au-Rene Theater
December 4, 6, 2014

Così fan tutte

Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte together represent one of the great achievements in the history of Western music: the triology of operas produced by the collaboration of Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte, the Venetian librettist and poet. Following its 1790 premiere in Vienna, it failed to develop the popularity of the first two collaborations, and was for many years considered risqué.

The literary and dramatic device of switching out fiancées dates from antiquity, and Mozart and Da Ponte made good use of it in their comedy. Two Neapolitan sisters, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, are heartbroken when their fiancées inform them that they must depart for war. They are unaware that the young men, Ferrando and Guglielmo, have been challenged by a friend of theirs, Don Alfonso, to put the girl’s fidelity to a test. While the young men are steadfast in their belief in their lovers, Alfonso maintains that they will be unfaithful at the first opportunity.

When Ferrando and Guglielmo return and court the other’s fiancée in disguise, the girls struggle with themselves only briefly and remain true to their lovers. The trick is finally revealed to the girls, but the opera’s ending is ambiguous and has inspired numerous interpretations over the years. The only certainty is that the relationships will never be quite the same after the lovers are reunited. The score of Così fan tutte contains some of opera’s most famous music, and it is difficult today to imagine a world where the three Mozart/Da Ponte masterpieces were unappreciated.

SCHEDULE | Cosi fan tutte

**Sung in Italian with projected titles in English and Spanish**

MIAMI ◙ Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County / Ziff Ballet Opera House
January 24 25, 27, 30, 31, 2015

FORT LAUDERDALE ◙ Broward Center for the Performing Arts / Au-Rene Theater
February 12, 14, 2015

The Pearl Fishers (Les pêcheurs de perles)

Georges Bizet, who died in 1875 while the first performances of Carmen were being given, never lived to see his masterpiece become arguably the world’s most popular opera. In fact, stung by the harsh reception given by the critics, he died thinking Carmen was a failure. His death, at the age of 37, was a staggering loss. His earlier opera, The Pearl Fishers, premiered when he was only 25 years old, and after his death, it came to be seen regularly. The tenor-baritone duet, “Au fond du temple saint,” is today one of the most famous in all of opera.

The story of The Pearl Fishers takes place in ancient Ceylon., It is among the many operas of the time that were inspired by a European obsession with all things oriental and exotic. Two pearl fishermen, Nadir and Zurga, are reunited after many years of separation. They recall a time in their youth when both were in love with a beautiful priestess they had only barely seen, and how they had sworn to renounce their love for her in order to preserve their friendship.

Nadir had broken his vow with Zurga, however, and had in fact secretly taken up with the priestess. When Nadir is caught with her, the two are condemned to death, but Zurga realizes that as a child, the priestess had once saved his life. Nadir facilitates the lover’s escape, and is left alone to face the wrath of the pearl fishermen.

SCHEDULE | The Pearl Fishers

**Sung in French with projected titles in English and Spanish**

MIAMI ◙ Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County / Ziff Ballet Opera House
February 28, March 1, 3, 6, 7, 2015

FORT LAUDERDALE ◙ Broward Center for the Performing Arts / Au-Rene Theater
March 12, 14, 2015

The Consul

Florida Grand Opera will close the 2014-2015 season with the company premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti’s first full length opera, The Consul. The Italian born but American trained Menotti had a major success when it premiered in Philadelphia in 1950 and then transferred to a long, successful run on Broadway. It followed his earlier, shorter works, including Amelia Goes to the Ball, The Old Maid and the Thief, The Medium, and The Telephone. Later Menotti triumphs were to include Amahl and the Night Visitors, a 1951 commission by NBC Television, and The Saint of Bleecker Street, from 1954.

The Consul won both the Pulitzer Prize for Music and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award for Best Musical for 1950. Lehman Engel, who conducted the Consul, was awarded with a Tony Award for conductor and musical director.

The Consul takes place in an unnamed country, and was clearly informed by the post World War II waves of immigration and repatriation and the mind-numbing indifference of the bureaucracies. The plot entails the desperate attempts by Magda Sorel to obtain visas that will enable the family to join her political dissident husband in emigrating to escape persecution. The endless waiting and her ultimate inability to succeed lead to desperate consequences and a tragic, powerful ending.

In its initial Broadway run, The Consul was given 269 performances, and its success led to it being produced in Italy at La Scala in 1951. It has since become widely recognized as one of the classic American Operas from the middle of the last century that defined a new trend in modern opera, and audiences continue to find performances of The Consul immensely rewarding, both dramatically and musically.

SCHEDULE | The Consul

**Sung in English with projected titles in English and Spanish**

MIAMI ◙ Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County / Ziff Ballet Opera House
May 9, 10, 12, 15, 16, 2015

Subscriptions for the 2014-15 Season start at only $36. FGO’s Box Office is located at the Doral Center on 8390 NW 25 St., Doral, FL 33122, and is open to the public from 10am to 4pm, Monday through Friday during the season. Tickets may also be purchased by phone at (800) 741-1010 or online at www.FGO.org.

Sponsorship opportunities for productions and events throughout the season are available. For more information, contact Individual Giving Officer, Max Kellogg at 305-854-1643 or [email protected]

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