At music festival, a ‘butterfly’ emerges

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Celebrating the close of the Natchez Music Festival’s 25th Silver Anniversary Season, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly is about to take stage.

With stage direction by noted Puccinian Robert Grayson and under the baton of artistic director Jay Dean, the production features young artists and guest soloists.

“It’s difficult to say which of Puccini’s operas is the best, when you have his other contenders — La Boheme and Tosca — but Butterfly has some of the most beautiful melodies, and it unquestionably captures the reserve of Japanese culture coupled with Italian emotionalism,” Grayson said.

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The story takes place at the turn of the 20th Century as a young Japanese woman whose family has fallen on hard times has taken up life as a geisha. A marriage broker has arranged for her to become the wife of a pleasure-seeking U.S. Navy lieutenant. When the lieutenant returns three years later to claim his son, everything unravels.  Grayson suggests the dramatic conflict of family, faith, and cultural morals provide striking contrasts which Puccini masterfully brings to life. Simple songs with authentic Japanese themes reveal Butterfly’s naiveté; soaring melodies heighten passions in the famous love duet. Butterfly’s hopeful “Un bel di” envisions Lt. Pinkerton’s return, the famous “humming chorus” casts a spell, while Butterfly’s powerful final scene will bring you to the edge of your seat!

Jay Dean said, “We have a marvelous cast. Antonia Tamer in her first performance of Cio Cio San (pronounced Cho Cho Sahn) shows promise of becoming an important interpreter of the role. Audience favorite Adam Cromer (from last season’s Tosca) returns to sing Lt. Pinkerton. Well-known baritone, Corey Crider joins the cast bringing depth to the role of the U.S. Consul Sharpless.”

You will also want to see Natchez native Harrison Callon, who plays Butterfly’s son said the director. At age three, his ability to work with half a dozen adults and integrate into an opera in such a genuine way is remarkable!

Madama Butterfly plays Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center, 64 Homochitto St., with a cash bar beginning at 6 p.m. in The Grape Escape Club Room.

Admission is $35 ($10 for Students K-12, Adult with K-12 Student, College and Active Military with Current ID.) Sung in Italian with English supertitles displayed over the stage.

Don’t miss Dancing Through the Decades, The Larry Panella Jazz Quintet Friday at the Vue Hotel and Restaurant at 7 p.m.

Top the charts while you dance away the night with an evening of hit dance music including sweet and romantic melodies, jazz and swing-era music in an elegant atmosphere. Admission: $25 ($10 for Student K-12, Adult with K-12 Student, College and Active Military with Current ID.) A cash bar will be available.

Tickets are available from the Natchez Pilgrimage Tours office at the Convention Visitors Bureau on Canal St., or call 1-800-647-6742. Or at the door prior to the performance.

Go to for more information.


Katie McCabe represents the Natchez Festival of Music.