Los Angeles Opera to present Puccini's 'Madama Butterfly' reimagined on film soundstage

This image released by LA Opera shows Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San, left, and Jonathan Tetelma as Pinkerton during a performance of Mario Gras's "Madama Butterfly" at Teatro Real in Madrid, which will be part of The Los Angeles Opera 2024-25 season. (Javier del Rea/LA Opera via AP) (Javier Del Rea)

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Opera opens its 2024-25 season Sept. 21 with Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” reimagined in a film studio and said Saturday it will present the company premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s “Ainadamar" while reducing its offerings from six main-stage productions to five.

Mario Gras's “Butterfly” staging, first seen at Madrid’s Teatro Real in 2017, stars Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San and Jonathan Tetelma as Pinkerton in their company debuts. James Conlon conducts in the start of his 19th season as music director.

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“Because it’s set on this vintage Hollywood soundstage, the director, Martin Gas, he contextualizes the ersatz vision of Japan because he puts a frame around it,” LA Opera CEO Christopher Koelsch said. “Because of the Hollywood connection, even though it was not conceived for us, it feels particularly apt for this city.”

Revenue has recovered from the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, with three main-stage productions thus far this season generating $5.2 million. The six main-stage productions in 2022-23 brought in $9.4 million; the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season resulted in just under $7 million from four stagings.

“What I’m trying to do is build resiliency and strength for the organization in the long term,” Koelsch said.

“Ainadamar (Fountain of Tears)” opens on April 26, 2025, starring Ana María Martínez and Daniela Mack in a Deborah Colker staging that first appeared at the Scottish Opera in 2022, was at the Detroit Opera and Welsh National Opera last year and is scheduled for the Metropolitan Opera this fall.

“That’ll be our ninth main-stage opera in Spanish in the company’s 38-year history,” Koelsch said.

Ian Judge’s 2005 staging of Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette” will be revived starting Nov. 2 with Duke Kim and Amina Edris in their debuts.

Michael Cavanagh’s production of Mozart’s “Così fan tutte,” first seen at the San Francisco Opera in 2021, opens March 8, 2025, with Conlon leading a cast that includes Erica Petrocelli and Rihab Chaieb.

Tomer Zvulun’s staging of Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” which premiered at the 2019 Houston Grand Opera, opens May 31, 2025, with Quinn Kelsey, Rosa Feola in her company debut and René Barbera.

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